Online Security Threats To Watch For In 2016

As the New Year approaches, we all begin to consider what the 12 months ahead may have in store for us, and this is no different in the world of cyberthreats. Online security giants, such as McAfee and Trend Micro, have already started mapping out what the cybersecurity landscape may look like in 2016.

Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be any quick-fire solutions to protect our online data heading our way, but by identifying some of the potential growing threats, we can all begin taking steps to protect ourselves from enduring any serious problems. Here are a few of the most widely predicted online security risks to watch out for:

security threats 2016

Commercial Data Breaches

As we all know from the Target data hack and the many others like it, commercial data breaches are becoming increasingly common. As such a large part of commerce is rapidly moving online, retailers are becoming more and more at risk of being targeted.

Similarly, the move to cloud technology to store data more efficiently, allowing businesses to cut costs, means even more information is at risk. The repercussions of this can be catastrophic not only for the companies, but also for the users whose data they hold, causing dramatic financial loss and serious damage to company reputations.

To prevent these breaches, businesses should ensure an efficient and up-to-date privacy policy, and customers should be certain to only use reputable sources when sharing personal information online.


Ransomware and online extortion is a fairly new idea but has been picking up speed in the last few years, and it looks as though this is going to continue throughout the coming year. This particularly nasty malware, when contracted, locks your screen and encrypts all the data on your machine, preventing you from using anything. When targeted, the only way to undo this process is to pay a ransom fee, usually in Bitcoin, to retrieve your data and the use of the machine.

Although there are already many strains of this malware—including Cryptowall and Cryptolocker—it’s predicted that the software will become more advanced in the coming year and many new types will be unleashed. To avoid disaster if targeted by ransomware, be sure to regularly back up your computer.

Smartphone Vulnerabilities

As mobile internet technology continues to rapidly advance, so do the cyberthreats it faces. The vulnerabilities smartphones face from the continual use of public, insecure WiFi means they are an easy target for hackers. Alongside this, the wealth of personal data stored on them makes them the perfect target for identity theft.

The Trend Micro predictions claim that the number of mobile malware will rise to near 20 million in 2016 and the effect of this will mainly be seen in China. In a somewhat more bizarre prediction, it also claims that at least one device fault will lead to a fatality.

Although there is not yet any way we can protect ourselves from faulty hardware, we can significantly increase our security when using public WiFi with the use of a VPN, which encrypts our data and protects us from prying eyes. Check out Secure Thoughts’ reviews of some of the best VPNs here.


With Hacktivism’s rise to fame through groups such as Anonymous, the on-going threat of the concept continues to increase. After witnessing the success of previous attacks, any politically charged group now has the option of hiring hackers to perform a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack.

These hacks can be used for surveillance, to steal data and block traffic, can be detrimental to systems and the companies that use them and can easily expose sensitive or incriminating information. To prevent this, it has been recommended that companies work with hackers or those with similar knowledge to maintain and monitor systems and to flag any suspicious activity before it becomes a full-blown attack.

Phishing and Identity Theft

Phishing has been an on-going problem for a while now. So much so that the black market has become so oversaturated with stolen identities that it is reported you can buy a whole new persona for less that a dollar on the Dark Web. Even so, the threat persists, and with the ever-evolving online world, it’s safe to say that new advances are always being made.

The New Year holds exactly this. New phishing techniques are being seen that specifically targets personal data that can allow access into corporate networks so hacks can be carried out from the inside. To carry out these attacks, it is predicted that a more in-depth psychological analysis and targeted social engineering will be used to trap victims. To prevent this, be wary about suspicious emails or correspondences and be extremely vigilant with whom you share your personal information online.

Although these examples give an overview of the developing climate of online threat, there are many other risks that our cybersecurity face. Have you come across other security issues? Comment to share any threats you may be have been made aware of with other readers and help to collectively protect the online community against attack!

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