Top Tech Trends of 2016

Over the course of 2016, businesses, governments and individuals alike saw both new threats and new opportunities emerge as information technologies continued to advance.

One of the top trends -- growing cybersecurity attacks -- already causes trillions of dollars in losses, with the damage expected to hit $6 billion by 2021, according to a report from Cybersecurity Ventures.

Meanwhile, continued developments in cloud computing along with accelerating advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) in 2016 increased pressure on organizations to transform for the new digital business era.

Other tech trends that led the news and the markets this year included ongoing improvements in self-driving car technology, more widespread adoption of wearable computing devices and advances in virtual-reality (VR) and augmented-reality technologies.

Cybercrime Getting Worse

Financial fallout and other impacts from cybercrime continued to rise dramatically in 2016, with Russia's links to pro-Trump hacking dominating headlines in the wake of November's U.S. presidential election. Other major hacks revealed this year included attacks on Dropbox and Yahoo, the last of which still threatens to deep-six Verizon's acquisition plans for that company.

The use of ransomware, such as Locky, also intensified. Earlier this month, the security firm Malwarebytes reported that the U.S. in particular was a prime target for such attacks, accounting for 26 percent of all ransomware incidents globally. The growing market for consumer security prompted IT security giant Symantec to announce in November that it was acquiring the identity theft protection firm LifeLock for $2.3 billion.

Artificial Intelligence Getting Smarter

Almost all of the major technology companies made big announcements related to artificial intelligence in 2016. For instance, when Google announced the launch of its new Pixel and Pixel XL Android smartphones in October, CEO Sundar Pichair said the devices' new built-in smarts heralded the shift from a mobile-first world to one...

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