Cybersecurity is now one of the top concerns for organizations across all industries as the number of malicious attacks and sophistication continue to rise, according to recent research.

The report conducted by Ernst & Young (EY), titled "Under Cyber Attack, EY's Global Information Security Survey 2013," found that the rising threat of cyberattacks is changing the way businesses prepare for and defend against outside hazards.

Nearly three-quarters of organizations surveyed noted that information security policies are managed at the highest level of organizations. The reality of IT security is leading companies to adopt more proactive approaches to counter growing risks.

EY categorized cyberattacks into three divisions, according to Forbes contributor Tom Groenfeldt:

  • State actors attempting to steal intellectual property
  • Organized crime aimed at stealing money
  • Hackers disrupting organizations out of belief in some cause

From cybercrime organizations in China to hacker groups like Anonymous, the rewards of cyberattacks can be bountiful, and businesses need to make necessary adjustments to prevent potential IT security breaches.

Countering threats with improved security
While the majority of firms are aware of these risks and encrypt most of the data residing on their IT hardware like laptops, the real threat lies in cellphones.

"Cellphones should be thought of as a compromised device" said Chip Tsantes, cybersecurity leader for financial services at EY, according to the source. "The mobility of a cell phone breaks everything IT departments have been managing for a long time. They always knew a server was in a data center, and they could maintain data behind the firewall and allow read-only access. Now with a smart phone, a user can easily photograph screens of data."

However, cloud computing solutions that include mobile device management, endpoint security and data encryption can all greatly reduce the risk of exposed business information by equipping smartphones with "smart tokens." Educating employees on potential threats is another important aspect of any IT security environment, as is investing in robust anti-virus software. Generic software is often based on known viruses and cannot protect against new forms of attack. Software-as-a-service solutions offered by cloud service providers can be better suited to combat evolving viruses through continuous updates that reflect emerging threats.

Advanced computing is crucial to overall security, especially since many organizations continue to run on legacy technology that is sometimes 15 years old, creating an easy target for hackers. As cyberattacks become increasingly complex and well-funded, businesses will need to adopt solutions that secure any and all endpoints and constantly assess the state of their IT security.