With a 44% increase last year in attack rate, cybersecurity is set to become a central element in organisations’ infrastructures. The global adoption of digital practices place security concerns at the heart of the digital bustle, and the range covered by such issues concerns individuals, businesses, corporates, and governments. The geopolitical, financial and societal implications are paramount. Here are eight key areas of focus that will shape the sector in the coming years.
- Expect more large breaches
Last year was full of bad surprises for the common user. Countless breaches leaked their data, social security numbers, credit card data, and other sensitive information. In spite of the increasing awareness and high spending to bolster security, the number of breaches is expected to grow even bigger this year.
According to a survey conducted by Ponemon, 66% of US senior professional IT practitioners believe that such breaches will significantly diminish their company’s shareholder value. IT professionals do not see the situation improving in the next three years, as more than half of them believe there will be a high risk to their organisations.
- The game of giants: nation-states honing their cyber-weapons
Nation-state attacks against public and private entities are expected to increase as well, with 22% of respondents to Ponemon’s survey believing it could lead to cyber-war. The presages of such situation are already observed, as hacking is a part of the political agenda of some nation-states, such as Russia and North Korea. Here, the gains from cyberheists can even possibly offset international sanctions. North Korea’s GDP, by some estimates, would be composed of up to one third of incomes from hacks.
Overall, government are bolstering their cyber capacities, defensive and offensive alike. Reports, such as the UK digital security paper, are here to illustrate the phenomenon.
Source: 2018 study on global megatrends in cybersecurity, Ponemon Institute, Raytheon, February 2018
- Organisations will get more involved in cybersecurity
Despite cybersecurity not being considered a strategic priority as of today, organisations will increasingly rely on their CISO, and boost their spending related to security technologies. All in all, professionals estimate cybersecurity governance practices are going to improve in the next three years.
The adoption of innovative solutions to counter attackers will be more common. Artificial intelligence, threat intelligence feed and analytics will be increasingly used. Nevertheless, this will be at best commensurate with the progress cybercriminals are making in the field.
Other technologies will help organisations protect themselves, such as deception technologies, misleading hackers into thinking the data they are attacking is genuine. Tools such as Network Traffic Analysis can help to monitor network traffic and improve data analysis. Endpoint Detection and Response (EDR), which can be compared to Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) in terms of its security features, is a solution first defined by Anton Chuvakin as “tools primarily focused on detecting and investigating suspicious activities (and traces of such) other problems on hosts/endpoints.” Its main use is the monitoring of threats in order to better counter them.
- Cryptocurrencies at risk
Bitcoin et al. have more than seductive profiles for hackers: anonymity, the ease of hacking it and its financial appeal make digital currencies an ideal target for cyber criminals. Examples of substantial hacks pile up, and are expected to multiply in the coming years. Estimates suggest that 10-20% of all bitcoin is owned by fraudsters.
Threat groups are also interested in digital currencies. According to Avivah Litan, VP at Gartner Research, “there are at least four very advanced threat actor groups who have been attacking banks in recent years, and about a month ago, they just dropped their activities and moved over to bitcoin hacking.”
Exchange are considered to be the weakest part of the chain, but other ways to hack cryptos exist, such as crypto hijacks in order to mine from victims’ computers, or social engineered attacks directed towards the networks.
- GDPR will rap on some knuckles
New security measures surrounding GDPR will be hard to comply with, and fines can go up to EUR 20 million or 4% of the annual turnover. Compliance will be a challenge for most organisations, to such extent that some will rather ignore the new regulation, as compliancy costs would exceed the risk of being fined. Fortunately, the highest fines will be for organisations breaching the regulations or actively hiding their activity.
Nevertheless, organisations will have to spend considerable amounts to achieve regulatory compliance, and the rise of data breaches will engender costly lawsuit and tort litigation.
- IoT on the radar of cybercriminals
More and more devices are being connected to the web, which means increased opportunities for hackers to retrieve data going through these connected apparatuses. Too many unpatched and unmonitored IoT devices are being released on the market. IoT botnets are also expanding, then used by attackers to launch sophisticated DDoS attacks.
According to the survey from the Ponemon Institute among IT professional, 82% of respondents say IoT devices will “likely cause a data breach in their organisation”, with 80% stating such breach would be catastrophic. Beyond corporate concerns, the general adoption of connected devices opens the door to a field of new opportunities for hackers. Literally, when considering the latest innovation integrated in Amazon’s delivery service.
- Paramount role of AI
Artificial intelligence technologies have been used in the past by CISOs to counter cyber attacks and they will increasingly do so. The potential of the technology is huge to predict and better react to threats. According to a report, “three quarters of cybersecurity professionals in the U.S. believe, within the next three years, their company will not be able to safeguard digital assets without AI.”
Naturally, AI is not an all-powerful white magic that can protect from ill-intentioned individuals. These individuals can use it as well towards their own ends, as suggests the recent report Malicious Use of Artificial Intelligence. According to the paper, researchers and engineers should consider thoroughly the double-use of their developments and experts should think about the harmful potential of new tools.
The sector is expected to expand the existing threats, create new ones, and overall change the face of the threat landscape.
- Rise of mobile adoption and threats
Finally, the standardising adoption of mobile is accompanied by an increase in attacks on endpoints. According to a report from ThreatMetrix, account creation is the most unsecure part of the customer journey, as more than one out of ten accounts are attacked.
Besides, in financial services, payments attack rate has grow 452% since 2015, according to the same report.
By Jean Leguy, Research Coordinator