In the next five to ten years, we can safely predict that industry and our daily lives will be further affected by game-changing innovations in technology. AI, machine-learning, virtual reality, IOT – all of these have and will continue to change the way we interact with customers, business partners, and even our close friends. We live in a time of rapid change and can so easily overlook the importance of adapting to the new ecosystem around us, in particular altering or transforming the way we think about security.

Unfortunately, cybercrime is developing faster than many positive innovations, which means that our security efforts must continue to evolve. It’s crucial for the future of businesses to advance their security efforts in order to simply maintain pace with cybercriminals. The complexities of protecting organizations from sophisticated cyber-attacks, while adhering to new regulatory efforts aimed at preventing breaches and keeping sensitive data secure, are overwhelming.

According to a Cybersecurity Ventures report, cybercrime is projected to cost organizations across the globe more than $6 trillion by the year 2021.

Here are five network security trends that will help your business stay ahead of the game:

1. Cloud Security

Cloud continues to become the standard for many businesses, as some organizations move to a ‘cloud first’ strategy or a hybrid cloud environment. Employees today need to be able to access important information anywhere and from any device. While convenient for the way we currently work, this puts many organizations and their sensitive data at risk.

It’s extremely important for businesses to ensure they use cloud services that offer sophisticated data encryption. Local backups, keeping software updated, strong passwords and employee education are practical ways businesses can enhance their cloud security.

2. Application Security

The web of applications throughout businesses today are becoming more complex, often featuring separate software for payroll, performance management, development, sales, marketing, and more. Risk has drastically increased for organizations, because sensitive data is flowing from one application to the next, causing many vulnerabilities.

It’s essential to keep data security a key priority in the selection process for new software and applications. Work with current and potential solution providers to keep software updated and require that the provider disclose their security efforts.

3. Identify and Respond to Anomalous Activity

Artificial intelligence and machine learning play a significant role in identifying cybercrime. AI can learn the behavior of individual positions or functions within a business in order to detect suspicious behavior or anomalous activity as it is happening. It can lock out certain accounts if it determines that someone has fraudulently entered a system or can at least alert management, so a quick decision and response can be made.

Research cybersecurity solutions with AI capabilities. At this point, it’s not an end-all solution, but adding this layer of protection can help you quickly identify or predict a threat based on abnormal behavior.

4. Real-time Change Auditing Solutions

Sophisticated software solutions can help organizations monitor activity across their network in real time. It's not quite artificial intelligence, but these tools are effective and are more common in the market today. Change auditing tools can track account modifications or deletions, changes in permissions, new software that has been downloaded, and much more.

Email alerts can be set to trigger if certain conditions are met, and custom reports can be created and run, so managers know the state of their network security at any given moment in time. Reports also provide a forensic function, allowing leadership to see exactly how threats occurred, so safeguards can be put in place to prevent future attacks.

5. General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

GDPR has now been active for many months, yet organizations are still figuring what processes and safeguards will ensure compliance. Fines for non-compliance are hefty, reaching more than €20 million for severe violations.

According to Forrester, 80 percent of organizations will likely fail to comply to GDPR in 2019. Scary, considering a fine such as this would be crippling for many businesses. Expect GDPR compliance to continue to grow as a consulting service, while compliance tools will become more prevalent.