Trending Topics in Cyber Security: 2016 Edition

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From viruses and worms to ransomware and phishing, cyberattacks can come from many sources. At Maryville University, we note that cyberattacks cost global businesses and private citizens $400 billion every year, and the cyber security industry needs to fill about 30,000 positions worldwide. If you’re wondering whether a Master of Science in Cyber Security degree program will enable students to secure positions in digital security fields, consider the following escalating cyber security issues that have dominated conversations in 2016.

Connected Devices and Security Breaches

As people accumulate more connected devices, they can expose themselves more often to cyber security risks. According to technology research firm Gartner, the global population will use 6.4 billion connected devices in 2016, which represents a 30 percent increase from 2015. These devices include common electronics, such as smartphones and tablets, as well as industry-specific gadgets, such as hospital equipment and manufacturing technology.

In 2015, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, FTC, released a report on connected devices and security, noting that cyber security on connected devices demands multiple approaches. Manufacturers must create a high-security infrastructure for each device, but users must also find ways to protect their data, such as through encryption and passwords. Additionally, the FTC urges companies to monitor their connected devices and create a plan for responding to cyber security threats.

Each of these tasks could create jobs for professionals with high-level cyber security experience and education. This situation might explain why the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, BLS, projects demand for information security analysts to grow 18 percent between 2014 and 2024. According to the BLS, businesses will need information security professionals to protect connected devices and computer networks from hackers and other threats.

Personalized Attacks From Criminal Networks

While connected devices might offer a doorway for criminals, personalized attack strategies can prove even more dangerous than a few lines of malicious code. Writing for the Society for Human Resource Management, Roy Maurer reveals that cybercriminals often focus on employees at small businesses. The criminal positions themselves as trustworthy and entices email recipients to download a file or click a link, which unknowingly to the target, downloads malware onto their computer.

Maurer cautions business leaders to educate their employees about cyber security. He also suggests that employees should immediately contact their company’s information technology department to report suspicious communications. If companies have cyber security experts on staff, these firms might become better able to protect themselves from cyberattacks.

Online Extortion Via Threatened DDos Attacks

On the opposite end of the cyber threat spectrum from personalized attacks, Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks involve an entire company or organization. According to IDG News Service correspondent Lucian Constantin, cybercriminals threaten to launch DDoS attacks, which flood the target website and network with traffic, unless the victim pays a certain amount of money.

Constantin reports that one criminal organization, the Armada Collective, has received more than $100,000 in payments from extorted victims. BBC correspondent Chris Baraniuk notes that experts predict a rise in DDoS attacks and extortion threats in 2016 and beyond.

From DDoS attacks to business infiltration and connected device vulnerabilities, executive leaders with master’s degrees in cyber security can find many ways to leverage their education for employment opportunities. Getting your online cyber security degree at Maryville University could allow you to improve online security for the vast population.



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