Depending on your appetite for tightrope walking, the present times are the best and also the worst for cybersecurity professionals. The plot is ages old: cyber defense mechanisms keep getting more sophisticated, but the cyber criminals are ahead of the curve. Mobile apps added a whole new dimension to the story, with Android giving many sleepless nights to its adopters. All in all, 2016 was a year that people associated with cybersecurity, will not easily forget. So what will the coming year hold? Here are our bets on the cybersecurity predictions for 2017.
7 Cybersecurity Predictions for 2017
#1 IoT will make things worse
Everyone is excited about the Internet of Things (IoT), except for security professionals. The latter know that when it comes to safeguarding our devices, we have not even woken up, let alone taken some decisive action. As millions (perhaps billions) of IoT-connected devices enter the scene, hackers will find easy ways of mass disruption. Gaining access to one of these insecure devices and using it to bring down a whole city will become common. In fact, this will also open floodgates to the other devices on Internet. All in all, expect security to become a nightmare as soon as the IoT era begins.
#2 More stringent legislation
Since the impending disruptions will be greater than ever, so will the losses to personal and critical data. For instance, hacking a hospital device and stealing all the historical healthcare data will become easy and common. Whose is to blame in such cases, then? Consequently, the laws surrounding data privacy and responsibility will become stronger and will carry larger consequences. In an era where drones will rule and privacy will be a soft target, expect the fist of law to tighten.
#3 Big Data will add fangs to cybersecurity
Hackers have traditionally thrived because of the cloak of invisibility. The sheer activity happening on the Internet made them hard to trace, and even if they were, to cover their tracks and disappear. Big data is all set to change that. With almost infinitely powerful systems and near-unlimited storage, Big Data analytics systems will be able to discern patterns of hacker activities much faster. This will add an important weapon to the arsenal of security analysts.
#4 NLP and ML will muddy waters
Natural Language Processing (NLP) and Machine Learning (ML) is finding very interesting applications in the industry, but we can bet it has attracted hackers also. Conversational bots are already prevalent, and it's fair game to assume that hackers will learn to use these tools to automate their efforts. As a result, a single hacker will be able to target millions and try to apply phishing and social engineering on them. Combine this ability with tempting seasons like Black Friday & Cyber Monday, and we have the perfect recipe for large-scale disaster.
#5 Mobile threats will get more nasty
Despite the many severe attacks on mobile platforms, the sad reality is that we still haven't woken up. Mobile OS and device makers continue to make the same mistakes, and fundamental enhancement in mobile security is left to others. As such, we bet that the new age of mobile attacks will be far more vicious than the previous ones. This time, far more sensitive information such as health data will be compromised, and one shudders to think what consequences will follow.
#6 DDoS attacks will become more common and more powerful
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) is an age-old attack that remains unbeaten. Make enough number of requests at the same time and you can bring down any system. With an exploding number of IoT devices and wearable able to join the Internet, DDoS attacks will become much more powerful. This will lead to several large sections of the Internet being shut down from time to time. The worst part is, it doesn't look like anything can be done about these attacks.
#7 Digital ransom will rise
In the US, an estimated $800 million was lost in digital ransom in the year 2016. As infiltrations become more common and easy, we can expect a strong upswing in this trend in the coming year. Threatening to sell the data, the threat of a DDoS attack, making sensitive data public, etc., are some of the possible tactics for those demanding digital ransoms.
Does the future look bleak? Absolutely, and we don't want to sugarcoat our words this time. With the massive connectedness and automation that is staring us in the face, we can imagine nothing but chaos as far as the state of security is concerned.