2016 is nearly here, and with the New Year comes the promise of new technology, new innovations and easier ways to connect to customers and enterprise users. But a new year also brings with it opportunities for hackers and bad actors to violate the privacy and security of businesses as malware becomes increasingly more sophisticated.

The VAR Guy spoke with a number of industry experts to glean their insight on the biggest trends of 2016. We’ve gathered some of our top picks below, while also adding our own advice on how you can advance your business and stay ahead of the curve this coming year.

1. Security will continue to be a hot topic in 2016: Now more than ever, consumers and enterprises alike are keenly aware of the importance of data security and the possibility of having their privacy breached. Last year, high profile consumer breaches from Target and Home Depot brought this issue to the forefront of the public eye, and in 2015 major breaches of companies like Sony and sites such as Ashley Madison brought private information into the spotlight. In 2016, individuals and enterprises will continue to fight back against data breaches, and more users are likely to question where and how their data is housed than ever before.

The exact geo-location of data will become more important to consumers than ever, according to Kim King, vice president of Global Partners and Channels at Progress Software. As these consumers become more educated on security, they will continue to press companies for the exact location of their data and to demand stronger protection to keep private information out of the hands of hackers and criminals. The increased demand from customers to have data stored in more secure locations could cost companies like Amazon big money if they are forced to upgrade their infrastructure, King said.

“People want to know where their data is and they want to know that it’s secure,” she said in an interview with The VAR Guy.

2. Hackers will use stolen data to publicly expose victims and damage their reputations: Hackers are becoming bolder and more brash than ever when it comes to stealing private information and posting it on the web for the world to see. From high-profile data breaches such as the recent “celeb-gate” hackings to attacks from organizations such as Anonymous, fear of public exposure is higher than ever before. This trend is likely to continue in 2016, according to Dmitri Alperovitch, CTO and Co-founder of Crowdstrike, a California-based endpoint protection solution provider.

So how can organizations and individuals work to prevent private information from falling into the hands of prying eyes? While there is never a guarantee of complete security on the Internet, enterprises will need to be more vigilant than ever in backing up information to safe places and carefully monitoring their systems for signs of intrusion. Utilizing hybrid cloud infrastructure can also be useful for data protection, as the most critical documents can be stored in a secure physical location as opposed to a public cloud server.

3. Cloud computing will become more relevant than ever as people understand the importance of automation in preventing errors: With an increase in cloud automation, enterprises are bound to see less human errors as people are removed from the day-to-day task of monitoring information, according to Simon Crosby, the co-founder and CTO of Bromium. While some form of human interaction is still necessary for the proper operation of cloud systems, Crosby believes that the less hands are touching sensitive data, the less chances there are for major mistakes.

With the change in how infrastructure is managed there is bound to be a change in spending habits and practices among enterprises, according to Crosby. This will cause a great deal of disruption among legacy security vendors as their products and services will be forced to evolve to meet changing market demands. Many of these legacy security vendors are bound to push back against this new way of thinking, but Crosby believes change is inevitable – for consumers, the real solution for securing infrastructure will be to allow vendors to build security natively into their solutions, rather than relying on patches and after-market corrections to ensure data security.

“Companies need to get out of the business of trying to patch things themselves,” said Crosby. “They need to let vendors patch them.”

4. Consolidation is key: As 2016 approaches, customers will continue to demand a unified ecosystem of partners, rather than having to deal with multiple siloed partners to obtain a service or product, according to Kim King. Rather than separating ISV partners from cloud partners, King said enterprise companies need to learn that all partners, no matter their specialty, are actually working toward the same goal: building customer satisfaction and expanding infrastructure to meet changing market needs.

They [partners] all need to work together,” said King. “I still see a lot of companies talk about their ecosystems as individual types of partners as opposed to how they actually intertwine them. Everyone always thinks of them as siloed, but for me they’re not.”

Consolidation will also be a large factor for security companies, especially as customers grow tired of deciding which vendor offers a superior product, according to Simon Crosby. 2016 will be a year in which large security vendors rapidly purchase and absorb smaller companies as they look to remain at the top of the security heap. Crosby said this will ultimately be good for consumers, as technology will become more advanced thanks to innovation and collaboration among vendors.

5. The importance of smartphones will trump passwords in protecting user assets: With the myriad of problems associated with online password breaches and general negligence on the part of individuals in creating unique passwords, smartphones will become the number one means of multi-factor authentication, according to Kevin Mahaffey, co-founder and CTO of Lookout, an enterprise mobile security provider. Services such as Android Pay and Apple Pay will make mobile payment without the need for credit cards easier than ever, while mobile banking and even cardless mobile ATM withdrawals are now possible with the use of connected mobile devices. Mahaffey predicts that a consumer’s smartphone will become the de-facto device for all of their business transactions, while also acting as the prime target for hackers and bad actors looking to steal sensitive personal and financial information.

“Weak passwords, individuals re-using passwords across sites, and password resets being available to anyone with access to your email all contribute to the password being an Achilles heel in even a very paranoid person’s security posture,” said Mahaffey in a statement. “Going forward, we foresee a world where practically everyone uses their smartphone as a multi-factor authentication element.”