Cybersecurity has become one of the most important areas of study for the new millennium. With so much data being traded and stored in the digital landscape, it just makes sense for criminals to focus their energy on this new means of theft.

That said, the simple novelty of hacking in terms of human history means that companies are still trying learning and adapting to the new threats facing them. For example, the idea that a criminal could hold your information hostage would have seemed ludicrous a few years ago. Now, society is dealing with ransomware attacks like the 2017 “WannaCry” malware that experts have estimated cost the economy around $4 billion.

The world is changing rapidly, but this doesn’t mean your organization has to be left behind. The next year certainly holds surprises for the cybersecurity industry, but following these tips can help prepare your company for the worst of it.

1. Backup your data now

Data is at the heart of any company’s success. It’s simply impossible for organizations to function without information, which is why it’s so shocking that so many businesses don’t properly backup the data they create and collect.

To begin, not doing so is simply an accident waiting to happen, especially for small businesses. In fact, a study posted by Small Business Trends found that 58 percent of small organizations are not at all ready for a data loss event.

However, the truly frightening aspect of this is the fact that a robust backup system is often the best protection against a multitude of attacks. The best example of this is ransomware, which is where the hacker encrypts the data on a device or network and will only unlock it when paid a certain amount of money. What’s more, security firm SOPHOS stated that the increased market for ransomware kits on the dark web is going to lead to a rise in attacks in 2018.

Wiping the ransomware from a gadget without removing the data itself is next to impossible most of the time, which is why many experts recommend 3-2-1 backup. This process requires three copies of a piece of data where two are stored on different mediums – such as the cloud and a physical drive – and one must be kept offsite.

Those looking to boost their backup system should consider the Backup-as-a-Service model offered by ISG Technology. Our top-of-the-line system uses the cloud to implement robust backup, which allows you to utilize multiple mediums and store data offsite.

2. Discuss security with your employees

Although a lot of people think of high-tech solutions when it comes to cybersecurity, the fact of the matter is that a huge portion of successful hacks have to do with something called social engineering. This is where the cybercriminal uses pity, deceit and emotional manipulation to get what they want out of an employee.

“Just about every person is vulnerable to social engineering.”

Most people don’t know it, but just about every person is vulnerable to social engineering. In fact, experts at security firm Social-Engineer have found that around 90 percent of the employees they try to hack end up willingly giving up their names and email addresses without even confirming the identity of the person asking. But that’s not all. Around two-thirds of people will give their Social Security numbers, birthdays or employee identification numbers.

Clearly, this is a major attack vector and it makes sense that hackers would exploit it as much as they do. Therefore, it’s important to educate employees on the multitude of ways a cybercriminal could use their benevolence against the company.

To begin, employers must emphasize the importance of vigilance when it comes to email. Hackers love beginning their attacks through something called phishing, which is where they send messages to workers in the hopes that one of them will click a link or give up sensitive information. However, the real problem many companies are dealing with these days is spear phishing, which is where the hacker targets a specific person by using information about them to convince them the email is legitimate.

According to PhishMe, attacks of this nature rose about 55 percent in 2016. What’s more, around 91 percent of data breaches can be traced back to an original spear phishing email.

Companies need to be scared of phishing. Phishing is a huge issue that many companies aren’t taking seriously.

Therefore, it falls upon employers to convince employees of the importance of email security. This should certainly involve a company-wide meeting discussing the risks, but it’s also vital that administrators set up tests for workers to see if they’ll fall for such an attack. Hackers have been relentless with spear phishing and it looks like that will continue in 2018, so the best way to avoid such an issue is to stress email security now.

3. Keep an eye on mobile security

Mobile devices aren’t a luxury anymore. They’re a vital necessity for workers all over the world, and ignoring this fact could have enormous security ramifications. The Pew Research Center found that 77 percent of Americans owned smartphones in 2016, This is causing a lot of companies to understand the value of the bring-your-own-device trend, which allows employees to use their own gadgets for work-related purposes.

While BYOD is certainly a huge step forward, the fact that many organizations are ignoring it is extremely dangerous. Gartner found that around 37 percent of employees are currently using their own devices for work without the knowledge of their employers.

The ramification here is that a huge number of devices are accessing sensitive company information without any sort of uniform security system protecting them.

While the importance of security measures must be stressed to employees, ignoring BYOD is most likely doing your company more harm than good. Therefore, the new year is a great opportunity to reorganize how your business handles employee-owned devices.

The future may be uncertain, but that shouldn’t paralyze you. By taking the proper precautions and being prepared for whatever cybercriminals can throw at you, you can avoid the biggest mistakes and ensure the success of your firm.