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2016 was a tough year when it came to cyber crime and hacking. We saw the news filled with allegations of hacker involvement in the US election, last April’s scandal of the Panama Papers, and an increase in the number of personal and business web hackings. It was sadly the latter that brought the global issues firmly into our homes and offices.

Unfortunately, the concerns resulting from cyber crime and hacking are unlikely to subside as 2017 unfolds, with the threat ever-present for those who carry out any transactions or business matters online.

We all know by now the age-old advice of having adequate protection in place if you own a website. Done properly, this can help to avoid website downtime in the case of unexpected hacks, and backing customer data up securely is obviously paramount if you handle sensitive data as a business.

However, what else should we keep in our minds at this time? With the digital landscape changing so much, what can we expect to hit the headlines specifically in 2017 when it comes to cyber crime, and what practical steps can be taken to protect ourselves?

Let’s take a look at two of 2017’s likely hot topics when it comes to security and life online.

Web Application Flaws

For all of its down points, 2016 actually saw a drop in reported web application vulnerabilities by content management systems. In fact, WordPress reported that the number of flaws affecting its services dropped by a whopping 50%.

Despite these (on the face of it at least) positive news for the CMS sector, there were still plenty of issues causing website owners nightmares thanks to the vulnerabilities inbuilt in certain popular plugins that are used day-in, day-out on content management systems.

The worry is that cyber criminals are starting to target more and more programming languages, such as PHP and Ruby, which has put the web security spotlight in 2017 firmly on web application security. Web application firewalls can still provide invaluable assistance in fighting off malicious traffic and preventing sites from coming under attack. A proper solution will be managed constantly by a team of experts, with some even using crowdsourcing technology to help prevent attacks that exploit vulnerabilities.

The Growth Of Ransomware

Ransomware was the hot topic of hacking in 2016. Previously viewed in the hacking community as a “low-brow” activity pulled off by opportunistic, relatively unskilled hackers, it is now being added seamlessly into the weaponry of experienced hackers, often as part of a distraction ploy to hide a bigger and more outlandish attack.

A recent attack on St Louis’ public libraries stopped people from taking out books and using the facility’s computers. Those behind the attack demanded payment in Bitcoin in order to stop, with this example especially nasty due to the sector of society affected. It is believed that as many as two-fifths of businesses in the US , Canada, UK, and Germany were subjected to similar attacks in 2016.

With cyber criminals now looking to exploit cryptoworms – a self-propagating new type of ransomware looking to extract Bitcoin ransom from companies (who are the main targets for ransomware attacks) – it is becoming increasingly clear that the only way to stop this kind of attack is to employ the best phishing protection defense possible.

By doing this, companies will be providing themselves with the best chance of surviving an attack and guarding against the sort of malicious malware that could cause devastation if left unchecked.

The digital challenges resulting from cyber crime today are multiple and complex. However, with a solid protection plan, and a contingency strategy to help if it does all go wrong, there’s no reason to be sitting there feeling powerless with our fingers crossed, hoping we don’t become the latest headline this year.

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