It is estimated that companies lost an astounding $375 to $575 billion last year on “hack attacks,” according to a report published by leading security software company McAfee. You likely read about some of the largest data breaches that were plastered over the news in 2015.
And if those numbers don’t surprise you, here are some stats that might: Intel Security reports that some 80 percent of small and medium-size businesses don’t use data protection, while less than half use email security.
Thus, the ability for small businesses to safeguard their critical data continues to be one of the top areas for IT investment in 2016 and beyond—and that screams opportunity for Microsoft partners to introduce customers to new solutions and technologies.
Through cloud technologies, safeguarding critical business information has recently become less cost prohibitive, with enterprise-grade security now available to SMBs. And now, with Microsoft Partner Network’s ModernBiz campaign, a result of extensive research with industry experts, top Microsoft partners, and customers, it’s easier than ever to start conversations with your customers to find the solutions that will put their minds at ease.
So you can take advantage of the opportunity and start those cybersecurity conversations with your customers, here are some recent trends we’ve found that you’ll want to consider:

1. Mobile Malware growth will result in more security issues.

2016 will be a year when cybercriminals focus on targeting mobile devices by attacking underlying operating systems and releasing more malware-infected apps.
China leads the world in the number of mobile users, and malware on these devices will surface as a huge problem. A study by Tsinghua University, Microsoft Research, and China’s Ministry of Science and Technology found that only a quarter of apps in the country’s local app stores are safe.
The adoption of mobile payment systems will also lead to a surge in hack activity related to stealing information from new payment processing technologies like EMV credit cards, contactless RFID smart cards, and mobile wallets like Apple Pay and Google Wallet.
As a Microsoft partner, you can help ensure that sensitive data on your customers’ mobile devices are protected with built-in encryption capabilities like Enterprise Data Protection and BitLocker. Find more information in the ModernBiz Safeguard Your Business resources, and start talking to your customers about how you can help protect their business against mobile malware.

2. Online extortion and hacktivism will continue to increase in 2016.

According to Microsoft Partner TrendMicro, rapid growth in online extortion and hacktivism is expected in 2016 with more sophisticated ways to steal information and gain control of web-enabled devices.
Malware programs like ransomware, which TrendMicro argues is potentially one of the most dangerous types of computer malware, might be used more frequently by hacktivists in order to encrypt the victim’s personal information like photos or conversations and extort money online to regain control of online accounts and devices.
To stay safe from attacks, learn more from about ransomware and how to protect yourself and your customers from it.

3. Password recovery scams, including spear phishing and smishing, are on the rise.

Spear phishing is an e-mail spoofing fraud attempt that targets a specific organization, seeking unauthorized access to confidential data. Spear phishing attempts are not typically initiated by “random hackers” but are more likely to be conducted by perpetrators out for financial gain, trade secrets, or military information.
Since phishing attacks are no longer limited to email, SMS phishing (smishing) is becoming more common, especially by hackers creating password recovery scams.
A criminal hacker only needs a victim’s email address and a mobile phone number to start a password recovery process and compromise their account, as per the TNW news blog.
Be sure to talk to your customers about built-in threat protection on PCs and devices with Windows Defender. Plus, help them detect and get alerts about security breaches with Advanced Threat Analytics (ATA) as part of the Microsoft Enterprise Mobility Suite (EMS).

4. Cyberattacks cause physical damage.

One of the recent hacking attacks in late December 2015 caused physical damage at an unnamed German steel mill. Cybercriminals used sophisticated social engineering and spear-phishing tactics to manipulate control systems and gain initial access to the steel mill’s office network.
And this is the second case of physical damage resulting from a cyberattack—the first was against Stuxnet in late 2007, in which a digital attack caused damage to equipment. Since then, experts have warned it was only a matter of time before other destructive attacks would occur. It appears they were right.
In the event of this type of a hack attack or even a natural disaster, it is very important to have a disaster recovery and data backup plan.
That’s why, should the unexpected occur, all Microsoft partners have the ability to get their customers’ businesses back up and running in no time with Azure Site Recovery, which offers an automated disaster recovery solution in the cloud. A tip: start talking to your customers about these solutions now, before the worst happens.

5. IoT is resulting in even more vulnerable devices.

All mobile devices that connect to IoT devices through Bluetooth or Wi-Fi are vulnerable to cyberattacks, and this makes it easier for hackers to access private or secure networks, causing mobile device driven attacks.
To protect devices, be sure to look into Microsoft Intune, which provides mobile device management, mobile application management, and PC management capabilities from the cloud. The tool includes comprehensive settings management for mobile devices, including remote actions such as passcode reset, device lock, and data encryption.
While the above trends certainly pose a threat, they also provide Microsoft partners with a tremendous opportunity to talk to customers about safeguarding their business from these threats. Use the Safeguard Your Business pitch deck to get the conversation started, and then learn more about all the ModernBiz solutions and how to market them to customers by visiting Microsoft’s ModernBiz page!