What is going to happen to the IT world in 2016? While no one ever knows for sure, it is possible to make a few educated guesses based on both observations from the past and current industry trends. The following predictions offer both early warnings and potential opportunities for business owners, helping you to move forward in an educated, strategic fashion that is going to both protect and benefit your business. Here are four IT trends business owners should watch in 2016:

1. Ransomware and Other Types of Cyberattacks Will Be on the Rise

Of all the IT trends, this is the most troubling for businesses. The number of cyberattacks will continue to increase in 2016, with ransomware being one of the biggest threats, according to McAfee Labs and Trend Micro. Besides increasing in number, ransomware attacks will be harder to detect. New ransomware variants will likely have stealth capabilities, allowing them to encrypt data silently in the background or even encrypt data on the fly, according to McAfee Labs. Plus, Trend Micro predicts that ransomware attacks will become more personalized, exploiting companies’ fears of losing their good business reputations.  You can click these links to learn more about malware and social engineering. In light of this prediction, you will need to keep abreast of security issues, vulnerabilities, and exploits — if you are not already doing so. There are many ways to track them, such as signing up to receive email alerts issued by the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team (US-CERT), a division within the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. It is critical that everyone on your staff be trained as well – remind them to be suspicious of any emails that include attachments, always verify any requests to make payments or transfer funds online, and to never let a link in an email or on a social media post control where you land.  It is always better to take a few minutes to verify something than it is to spend time cleaning up an infected network, or worse, trying to recover from a major hack.

2. Governments and Other Organizations Will Take a More Active Role in Fighting Cybercrime

Governments will take a more active role in protecting the Internet and its users in 2016, according to Trend Micro. Besides governments enacting legislation, the Internet security firm predicts that there will be more international cooperation between governments, similar to the 2015 agreement between the United States and Europe to share data during criminal and terrorism investigations. Sharing data and resources will also become more commonplace among other organizations, according to Trend Micro. These organizations will likely try to emulate how the Cyber Defense Institute, INTERPOL, Kaspersky Lab, Microsoft, and Trend Micro took down the SIMDA botnet in 2015. Even if these IT trends hold true, you should not rely solely on government and outside organizations to protect your business against cyberattacks. You will need to implement security measures to protect your business if you have not done so already.

3. The Wearables Market Will Rapidly Expand-

The number of wearable computer-powered devices (e.g., smart watches, smart glasses) is expected to grow from 200 million in 2015 to 780 million worldwide by 2018, according to McAfee Labs. Besides growing in number, wearables will likely grow in sophistication, opening the door wider for business use. For example, PwC envisions a retail environment in which clerks use wearables to access information in real time to answer customers’ questions and customers receive sale notices on their wearables when they enter stores. Although wearables have the potential to improve employee productivity, increase sales, and provide other benefits for businesses, they have a possible downside as well, according to McAfee Labs. Wearables can expose businesses to security vulnerabilities because they either connect to the Internet directly or connect to smartphones or tablets. So, if you want to take advantage of wearables in your business, you will need to ensure that the connections are secure. You will also need to protect any data you collect from wearables. The IT trends also carry out to the general increase in awareness and marketing towards the IoT or Internet of Things.  The wearables category is actually part of the IoT.

4. Companies Will Continue to Migrate to IT Infrastructures in the Cloud the Consolidation of Cloud Vendors Offering This Service

The migration from onsite physical IT infrastructures to IT infrastructures in the cloud is expected to continue as of the major IT trends in 2016, according to cloud experts. The potential to save time and money will be fueling this migration – particularly among the SMB market. Companies will be able to run their business applications without having to buy or manage the servers, storage devices, networking equipment, and other items needed to host those applications.

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