In my last column, I wrote about how technology evolved and influenced our lives in 2018. Now that we are in the New Year, itís time to look forward to what 2019 may have in store for us.

Cybersecurity will remain one of, if not the most active area of technology in 2019. Some are predicting a distinct increase in cyberattacks. There is no question cyberattacks are happening more frequently than ever and penetrating further than they ever have. The rise of state-sponsored attacks is alarming, as is the number of groups attributed to attacks being funded by governments.

As we move deeper in to 2019 and the 2020 election draws closer, concerns about cyberattacks on campaigns, voting and social media platforms are expected to reach unprecedented levels. The development and deployment of proactive defenses against these anticipated attacks will be closely watched to insure the integrity of this election cycle.

Come January 2020, both Windows 7 and Windows Server 2008 will be out of support, meaning they will no longer receive security updates and become vulnerable to hackers. Many businesses are still running both operating systems extensively and the time to plan for replacement is now. Before you know it, we will be deep into the New Year and there will not be sufficient time to plan for and implement necessary upgrades or replacements to be sure these are not in place at this time next year. Hackers will be ready to attack systems still in place. If you are not already planning to replace all systems running these versions, you are putting yourself at unnecessary risk.

Artificial intelligence, AI, will continue to evolve and become more ubiquitous this year. From monitoring financial networks to combating cyberthreats, AI will become an important aspect of how we leverage technology for good. As an example, most security operations centers, the mission control like centers that monitor massive amounts of security logs for threats, canít function without AI. AI allows security analysts to sift through massive amounts of data to identity patters of activity that could represent a real-time risk to a network. Once identified, the risk can be clearly communicated to appropriate resources for response. AI represents perhaps the only way we can effectively develop cyberdefenses to keep ourselves safely connected.

Smarthome technology will become even more pervasive in 2019. Walk in to any electronics or home improvement store and you will see ever larger displays of smarthome technology. From video doorbells, to garage door control to temperature sensors, alarm systems, lighting control and more the connected home is here. As is voice control. Alexa is everywhere and Google and others are nipping at her heels. The ability to talk to your home and have it intelligently respond is here. There are a lot of privacy concerns around this technology, but the benefits have so far outweighed the risk.

Speaking of privacy, privacy will remain a hot topic due to the amount of personal and sensitive information that lives within our technical infrastructures. From legislation, to technical controls to auditing capabilities to monitor the flow of data in real time, concerns about privacy will remain front and center in 2019.

Personal health technology will also become more prevalent this year. As an example, the latest version of the Apple Watch allows you to take on demand ECGís and detect heart anomalies. While this is innovative and potential transformation, itís not without concern. Some medical professionals have expressed concern that people will place too much faith in personal health technology and put themselves at unnecessary risk. The concern is that someone may not seek out professional medical assistance and instead rely on technology to self-diagnose and treat.

Technology is a wonderful enabler of our human evolution. Like any significant progress throughout history, itís not without risk and tradeoffs. Being in the business, I obviously favor the positive over the negative, but not without proper understanding and respect for the concerns. Itís up to all of us to use technology wisely and for good. Really not much different from any other aspects of our lives. Happy New Year.

MJ Shoer is director, Client Engagement and vCIO at Onepath, with offices in New England and the Southeast. Onepath is the one source for all things to do with designing, deploying and supporting and maintaining technology Ė from cable to Cloud. He maintains a blog about IT at www.mjshoer.com and may be reached at mshoer@1path.com.