iStock_000042348230_SmallLast year certainly had its share of troubles in the data security industry. Major retailers like Target and Home Depot suffered massive hits, and the resulting public relations fallout will remain seared in our collective consciousness for a long time.

Unfortunately, data thieves are only getting smarter, and new data security breaches still occur every day. In fact, the following situations should be closely watched throughout 2015 and beyond, because they are likely targets for hackers in the near future.

Point-of-sale attacks. The good news is that “chip and pin” technology will be required by federal law this October. The bad news is that hackers know their window of opportunity – to steal a wealth of information via easily-hacked point-of-sale machines in stores – is now closing. We can expect to see more attacks similar to the Target incident in the coming months, as thieves take their last shot at gaining access to customer credit card numbers.

Cloud data breaches. More and more businesses are turning to the cloud for their data storage needs. While this is a great idea for many reasons, it can be a risky move if they don’t also implement the right security measures. Businesses are urged to seek the guidance of an IT professional when setting up their cloud systems.

Health care breaches. Health care records offer up everything data thieves want on a silver platter. One medical record contains all the information these con artists need to steal an identity. Then the problem is exacerbated by the fact that many different health care providers may need to share that information, putting the data at risk each time it is transmitted. Health care providers need to be particularly vigilant about data security.

Employees are still the biggest threat. We tend to think of a security threat in the same way children think about the Boogyman; they’re mysterious figures, shrouded in mystery, transmitting computer viruses from their parents’ basements and using stolen information to fund an easy lifestyle. On the contrary, employees are still the biggest threat to most companies. Some employees are downright malicious and self-serving, while others unwittingly open emails or leave their computers logged in and unattended. Either way, every business should set and enforce strict data security regulations.

One last trend we’re seeing lately: Business leaders are suffering direct fallout from data breaches. No longer is the IT department bearing all of the blame; the public expects the leaders of a company to be informed and take proactive steps to keep their information safe. If you’re a business owner or manager, and you haven’t updated your data security protocol lately, it’s time to protect your customers and your company.