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Cyber Security: Increasing Threats in a Growing Market

Corporate security is no longer limited to protecting workers and office spaces. The biggest threats to organizations now come from cybercriminals intent on compromising business information systems and data. Malicious actors attack networks and hold information for ransom, and large-scale attacks are often the work of a group of programmers working together for a big payoff.

Even though major attacks make the news, many companies are still hesitant to invest in securing their data until it is too late. Most executives don’t understand the risks associated with outdated security measures, and many companies do not patch and upgrade systems enough to avoid a breach. When they do take notice, they face a shortage of highly trained information technology employees. As a result, there is an ever-growing demand for skilled workers in cyber security careers.

Escalation in Attacks

Cyber attacks are increasing in number and scale every year, and new threats are developed every day. When looking at statistics over the past 10 years, breaches have risen rapidly. In 2010, there were 20 major attacks that each cost companies over a million dollars in damages. By 2019, there were 105 such incursions. With increasingly dispersed workforces and many people working from home during the COVID crisis, experts are reporting up to 4,000 attacks every day since the pandemic began in early 2020. Cybercrime is predicted to cost more than $10 trillion worldwide by 2025.

Types of Threats

Companies face a wide range of threats, and hacked websites are the least of their concern. Attacks on  business servers to access corporate data, client information, or banking account numbers can cost a company big time. Financial resources are drained, personal information is sold to criminals for credit card and identity theft, and consumer confidence is shaken.

Malware and viruses from downloads, suspicious websites, and malicious advertising damage or destroy archival documents, content, and data stored on physical servers or on cloud-based databases. Ransomware is gaining in popularity with criminals every year. Ransomware allows crooks to block access to an organization’s data and threaten to delete, publicly release, or sell it unless a ransom is paid.

Business Email Compromise targets businesses and individuals performing financial payment activities. Hackers can use a compromised email account to send fake invoices to employees or upstream/downstream business partners, send HR an email request to update direct deposit information to route payroll to a false account, or email false wire transfer instructions to someone making a purchase or processing payments. On the customer side, financial service providers with lax security leave personal bank accounts and credit cards at risk.

Phishing is most often done through email accounts. Programmers send an email to employees with a link to a false website. When an unsuspecting employee clicks the link, the message sender is able to access and take over the employee’s email account, or trick them into revealing passwords.

Competencies and Certifications

Companies have generally focused on completing daily IT department tasks, user issues, or software upgrades, rather than hardening networks and systems for an intrusion that might happen in the future. In the absence of an active threat, many in management do not see the benefit of spending money on something they feel may never happen. By the time they know better, it’s too late. By not investing in the professional development of IT employees, workplaces are seeing major skills gaps in the cyber security job market. Candidates with expertise in security and advanced certifications stand out above the crowd.

Threat analysis, penetration testing, and incident handling are some of the top security skills in today’s market. Training on firewalls, forensics, and endpoint analysis are also in-demand at security-conscious organizations. Top certifications include Certified Information Systems Auditor (CISA), Certified Information Systems Security Professional (CISSP), and Certified Information Security Manager (CISM).

With the constant threat of attack and new vulnerabilities from mobile, web, and cloud-based systems, highly trained IT professionals are more important than ever. Getting training and certification in the most highly sought after areas of cyber security is the best way to stand out in the IT crowd. Become an expert in threat identification, attain a new certificate or upgrade to a higher level, and expand your knowledge of testing, applications, and analysis to be at the top of the cyber security market.

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