The average cost of a data breach rose 6.4 percent in 2018, reaching $3.86 million. These costs have been rising year over year for some time now.

Experts predict one business will fall victim to a ransomware attack every 14 seconds by 2019, and every 11 seconds by 2021. 44% of businesses claim they do not have an overall information security strategy. Ransomware attacks on hospitals are predicted to increase 5X by 2021.

As data breaches and other cyber security threats continue to make headlines, the demand for superior data protection only rises. Business leaders are looking towards increasing their cyber security measures.

Overall, the total number of records compromised in the first half of 2018 was 3,353,172,708. That figure marks an increase of 72 percent over the first half of 2017. Not surprisingly, the amounts of records breached every day, hour, minute and second also surpassed the totals observed a year earlier. What is remarkable is that all of these figures more than doubled between 2017 and 2018.

The nature of cyberthreats in the age of artificial intelligence is changing. If you want to ensure your data is protected in the new year, these are the major developments in cyber security you need to know.

Artificial intelligence as a double-edged sword

One of the biggest trends in cyber security has to be the use of artificial intelligence. AI technology has made significant strides over the last few years, and many businesses are now adopting it.

Cyber security is just one of the many areas in which applying AI makes sense. Machines can be trained to look for patterns and carry out routine tasks that would take humans hours to perform, allowing for better detection of potential security threats.

But, AI is also a double-edged sword. Cyberattacks in 2019 are likely to use even subtler means of gaining access to information, which could include the use of AI.

2019 Cyber Security Trends
Source: Symantec, 2018

Ransomware will continue to be a major threat

When it comes to cyberthreats, ransomware is among the most feared. This type of threat essentially takes a computer’s infrastructure as hostage.

Avoiding ransomware attacks like the WannaCry crisis will continue to be a top priority for businesses. Updating systems, patching them, and creating regular back-ups are all important defence measures.

Cyberthreats and the Internet of Things

The Internet of Things has expanded exponentially in recent years. As more connected devices emerge, they generate more data than ever before.

The soaring production of insecure internet-of-things (IoT) devices is creating widespread cybersecurity vulnerabilities. ‘The Big Data Bang’ is an IoT world that will explode from 2 billion objects (smart devices which communicate wirelessly) in 2006 to a projected 200 billion by 2020, according to Intel.

This also provides ample opportunity for hackers. As connected networks continue to grow, this provides hackers with a larger attack surface. As our devices and appliances get smarter, the need for data security becomes greater than ever before.

Gartner forecasts that approximately 453 million wearable devices will be shipped worldwide in 2022, up from roughly 179  million in 2018. Wearables include smartwatches, head-mounted displays, body-worn cameras, Bluetooth headsets, and fitness monitors.

Demand for cyber security professionals

The cyber security industry has had a spotlight on it in 2017 and 2018, thanks to a number of high profile data breaches.

There is currently a talent shortage in the field, making cyber security professionals a hot commodity. To meet the growing demand for individuals trained in cyber security, IT and Technology leaders are calling for increased efforts to create specialized cyber security programs and certifications in higher education.

Cybercrime will more than triple the number of job openings to 3.5 million unfilled cybersecurity positions by 2021, and the cybersecurity unemployment rate will remain at zero percent.

At the internal company level, business leaders are calling for increased employee education on how to understand, identify and address data security threats.

Data security objectives becoming business objectives

Patching and application testing are two of the oldest topics in cyber security. They are also two of the most important. Businesses may finally realize their importance in 2019.

If businesses recognize the importance of these two tasks, they should look to further allocate the funding and time needed to prevent loss from data breaches. The process of doing so will not only increase data security but job creation and innovation as well.

Global spending on security awareness training for employees is predicted to reach $10 billion by 2027, up from around $1 billion in 2014. Training employees how to recognize and defend against cyber attacks is the most under spent sector of the cybersecurity industry.

Employee training may prove to be the best ROI on cybersecurity investments for organizations globally over the next 5 years.

Are you ready for 2019?

The cyber security industry is poised for continued growth and innovation in order to address the growing frequency and sophistication of cyber attacks. Consumers and business leaders alike will need to exercise caution and forward thinking in an increasingly connected world.

This is great news for investors looking into this sector. The industry’s consistent growth makes the sector a viable opportunity for investors who want to diversify their portfolio through an ETF such as the Evolve Cyber Security Index ETF.

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