Cybersecurity Challenges in US IT infrastructure

Updated on February 14, 2017

There are a lot of exciting things to look forward to in 2017 regarding US IT infrastructure. Unfortunately, there’s plenty to worry about, as well. Below, we’ve compiled the challenges that will prove to be the biggest threats to IT infrastructures in the United States this year.

Employees Cause Most Problems

By far, the biggest challenge facing IT professionals throughout the United States is that, time and time again, employees are the ones causing the biggest vulnerabilities.
At this point, everyone has heard of phishing, for example. We all know that people will send us email purporting to be some kind of authority figure or friend. They direct you to click a link or otherwise ask you for personal information. Either way, the plot ends with a complete stranger having access to your company’s sensitive information.

Despite how simple this plan is, it is consistently effective. It’s a combination of simplicity and effectiveness that makes it so scary. You don’t have to be some genius cybercriminal to pull this attack off. Furthermore, you can use it again and again and again – playing the numbers game – until someone finally falls for it.

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Furthermore, the simplicity of this con doesn’t do justice to how destructive it can be. Successful phishing attacks have cost companies hundreds of millions of dollars at a time. In fact, we’ll never know how much employees cost companies every year because, often, executives pay ransoms or otherwise work hard to ensure the successful attack doesn’t make the news.

What Can Be Done?

Given the huge industry that exists for keeping sensitive information safe, there are definitely some robust solutions in the works. Multifactor authentication is a good example.
Unfortunately, almost any conceivable solution will depend on workers to do some of the work to keep their employers safe. Hackers will continuously leverage this systemic flaw.

Attacks Are Getting Easier and Easier

We already touched on this to some degree, but it’s important to bring up in terms of IT infrastructure because those who develop defenses must prepare for the future volume of attacks they’ll be up against.

One big reason for this is that people without an extensive knowledge of coding can now go after victims by purchasing their attacks through the black market the way the rest of us would buy software on Amazon.

Perhaps even more frightening is that there are all kinds of ways to breach security without using any kind of software whatsoever. Even popular sites like YouTube will show users how to pull off things like using a keylogger. This kind of attack essentially hands a user’s password to the criminal and can be used to gain all kinds of other information, as well.

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IT Infrastructures Are Only Getting Bigger

If you work in IT, this is great news. It represents a future rich in job security. Last year, Gartner even predicted that, by 2020, there would be at least two connected devices for every person on the planet.

The Internet of Things continues to be a burgeoning industry, as well. It won’t be long before everyone’s home and work is equally connected and outfitted to meet a number of consumer requirements.

This is also extremely good news for hackers. Their hunting grounds are about to expand exponentially. Instead of accessing your emails, which is bad enough, they will be able to access security cameras, temperature controls, building logs, cash registers and much, much more.

“Headless works” are already an issue. These are malicious lines of code that hackers use to go after “headless devices” like smartphones, smartwatches and even medical hardware.

An almost unimaginable challenge, in terms of sheer size, will be how IT professionals will somehow support the evolution of the digital world while keeping everyone safe from an ever-growing underworld of cybercriminals.

The general consensus seems to be that the best way forward is to continually take steps to educate the public. If people understand the potential damage that can be done by hackers, they will be more likely to do their part in defending against them. Ensuring they know what to look for will also be a huge step in the right direction.

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Even so, constantly reviewing your infrastructure for potential vulnerabilities and successful attacks will need to be something you continue to invest in going forward.

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