The word “hacking” is having a moment. For the past few years it’s seemed that we can’t get through a week without news of another hacking scandal, data breach, or malware attack. For example, the recent Disney+ launch was disrupted by the hacking of thousands of accounts within hours of the service going live for the first time.

And while cybercrime is a major concern for consumers, it’s an even bigger one for businesses. Cybercrime is projected to cost businesses worldwide $5.2 trillion in the next five years. This is an issue that shows no signs of slowing down. Cybercrime is becoming more common, and the cost of addressing it is going up every year.

Companies of all sizes can be targets

Though attacks on large companies like Equifax and Marriott are the ones that tend to make headlines, no one is immune from attack. Businesses of all sizes can be hit. According to Accenture, as much as 43% of attacks are aimed at small businesses. Though a breach is bad news for a company of any size, big companies with deep pockets are better equipped to recover from an attack. Small and medium-sized businesses, on the other hand, can’t afford to be unprotected.

The effects of an attack can be devastating

Becoming the target of an attack can become a full-blown crisis in a very short period of time. First of all, cybercrimes disrupt the usual order of business, diverting time and resources to repair the damage caused. Furthermore, cyberattacks can cause infrastructure damage and data loss. Though it’s more difficult to quantify, the damage to a company’s reputation and the loss of consumer trust can be devastating.

Consumers are on edge

With high profile breaches happening on an increasingly regular basis it’s no surprise that consumers are on edge about privacy and data security. The popular AI app, FaceApp, which went viral earlier this year, offers a great example of how high tensions are running. FaceApp’s broad permissions and Russian ownership led to a consumer panic about what information the app was accessing and how they were planning to use it. Though the concerns were likely overblown, the episode points to heightened consumer sensitivity to privacy issues.

2020 will bring about new developments in cybersecurity

The number of cybercrimes being carried out every year is on the rise, but fortunately the cybersecurity industry is growing and evolving to keep pace. Some key changes to anticipate in 2020 include:

Heavy investment in security
  • Across industries, budgets for cybersecurity are increasing. As budgets increase, so too will demand for security service providers and in-house roles. There’s more demand for skilled cybersecurity specialists than talent available, which likely means paying a premium for these services. 

Increased Government Regulation

  • The General Data Protection Regulation (better known as the GDPR) went into effect in the first half of 2018. The GDPR is an EU law that regulates data protection and privacy of EU citizens and, notably, it applies to any company conducting business with citizens of an EU nation regardless of where the company is based. 
  • Though the U.S. so far has not enacted any federal legislation regulating data protection, certain states have begun rolling out legislation at a state level. Perhaps chief among these is California, whose California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA) goes into effect on January 1, 2020. 
Focus on the IoT
  • A major area of cybersecurity concern is the growth of the number of connected devices that are coming online, with the rise of 5G technology also contributing to this trend. The more connected devices that come online, the more opportunities exist for data breaches and malicious attacks. Securing the Internet of Things is going to become a major cybersecurity focus as these devices see ever greater rates of adoption.
Better efficiency through AI
  • AI and machine learning are a bright spot on what can otherwise feel like a very bleak topic. Both AI and machine learning are increasingly being leveraged to proactively identify threats as they happen. The goal is to enable companies to respond to attacks faster and recover quicker.

Conclusion

Cybercrime is not just a concern for enterprise-level businesses. In fact, nearly half of all attacks are aimed at SMBs who are, by-and-large, less protected from threats and less capable of weathering the financial ramifications of an attack. In the current landscape, where cybercrime is a growing threat, companies of all sizes need to invest in protecting both their own data and that of their users or customers.