Small and medium businesses will want to work closely with an IT support firm over the course of the next 18 months in order to prepare for the coming IT security environment, which experts have characterized as consisting of "colliding threats" or a particularly negative form of synergy.
Anyone who has been in business for long is probably aware of the research regarding the positive aspects of a principle known as synergy. This principal states in essence that 1 + 1 can equal more than two when human beings are an integral part of the equation. In other words, two workers individually pursuing a project are less effective than two workers laboring together are. The team can accomplish more than the whole of its parts because people working together will stimulate new ideas that can yield better results and increase efficiency.
Unfortunately, however, the principle of synergy also applies to malware and other threats. In this case, it means that a combination of threats delivered together can pack a greater punch than all those threats delivered separately to the same organization. Security experts are now seeing a ‘brave new world’ about to emerge in which cyber criminals begin exploiting the negative capacity of threats to interact in ways that are highly destructive for small and medium-sized businesses.
Steven Durbin of the Information Security Forum summarized the problem: "While individual threats will continue to pose a risk, there is even more danger when they combine, such as when organized criminals adopt techniques developed by online activists. Traditional risk management is insufficiently agile to deal with the potential impacts from activity in cyberspace."
The same report also warns to expect an increase in threats that end up affecting physical systems as well as virtual ones. Businesses have been taught by example if nothing else that most cyber crime ends up posing a risk to information resources. The new threat environment expected by 2014 will involve attacks against such systems as electrical lighting and climate control, systems rendered vulnerable because they are being increasingly tied into electronic controls accessible via the internet.
Nor is it only large enterprises that need worry about this form of attack. Any business that donates to certain political candidates whose views may be unpopular could find itself targeted by hacktivists who may try to disrupt operations and threaten profits by literally turning off the lights. In such an environment, businesses are best served by an IT managed services model so that their IT security provider can ‘fight fire with fire’, leveraging the potential of the internet to provide protection against those who would seek to exploit it in a destructive manner.
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