Cloud, Internet of Things and a whole array of prognoses for security

7 Security Predictions: The whole world wants in on cybercrime!

Christophe Birkeland

Internet security online business image via Shutterstock

2016 has a lot in store for us if you ask Christophe Birkeland, the CTO of Malware Analysis at BlueCoat Systems. Some are constructive, others are destructive but they all represent the reality that surrounds us and they all have a part to play this year.

IoT – It’s 10 o’clock, do you know where your thermostat is?

  • IoT is a new, greenfield area for hacking and learning. The PoS hacks over the last few years are just the beginning. The prevalence of Internet-connected devices that are often left unsupervised and unsecured makes them a haven for control and manipulation. The fact is, many IoT devices lack significant memory space or Operating System capability therefore treating them like endpoint agents will not have the expected result – this will enable the hacker community to exploit IoT vulnerabilities not only for the sake of headlines, but also for more nefarious purposes (simply turning devices on or off).
  • Today, ransomware is not widespread as far as IoT devices are concerned (such as refrigerators and Fitbits), as those devices simply don’t store the high-value data that hackers want. But as IoT continues to be discovered and tested, we’ll begin to see more advanced attacks affecting us in 2016 and beyond.

International threat landscape

Kumbayikes! The whole world wants in on cybercrime: The sophistication level of nation state’s attacks has started to grow and some – like Nigeria – are entering the fray with more sophisticated attacks. On the other hand, China and North Korea have done little to heighten their attacks over the past five years. But they are nonetheless successful, partly due to the persistence of these attacks. Russia has evolved significantly in the past several years, both in terms of activity and sophistication, as the country has become less concerned with keeping a low profile. Russian hackers are now bolder and more active as intrusion attempts spike. We predict that conflicts throughout the world will walk hand in hand with hardware-connected attacks.

No port in a storm: On the heels of the Safe Harbor verdict, the ratification of the EU General Data Protection Regulation – and its stiff penalties for non-compliance – will force companies to take full inventory of how they handle the personal information of their EU-based customers and employees; expect it to have an immediate and significant impact on their security architectures and investments.

Cyber talent – brother can you spare a researcher?

The failure of organizations and countries to build up cyber talent will be a huge issue over the next five years. The demand for information security professionals is expected to grow by 53 percent through 2018. Due to this issue, security jobs will be filled by MSSP’s (and the cost will not go down). Additionally, products will have to get better and smarter to drive change and. The private industry will need to change the trend and get investments in order to get people interested.

Jewels in the Cloud; thieves in the Cloud

The keys to the kingdom are now in the cloud. As more organizations store their most valuable data in the cloud (customer and employee data, intellectual property, etc.), the bad guys will find a way to gain access to this data. In 2016, we expect to see an increase in breaches of cloud services, and hackers will use credentials to cloud services as a major attack vector. Social engineering tactics will focus on mimicking cloud login screens to gain credentials.

Ransomware road trip!

Mobile malware and particularly ransomware make a lot of money for the bad guys, and will continue to do so in the coming year. A fresh target is the mobile device – phones and tablets are already seeing a rise in ransomware. Criminals have already attacked much of the low-hanging fruit, and they’re now targeting not just individuals but organizations that have not properly backed up their sensitive data (which can range from images, to source code, to manuscripts). The newly-discovered Linux.Encoder ransomware (which has already compromised 2,000 websites) is just another example of how ransomware continues to evolve.

Encrypted traffic/SSL-hiding in plain sight

As services like Office365, Google Drive, Dropbox and Box continue to increase in popularity, hackers continue to leverage these services. And, these services are ideal for hackers: They’re free to set up, they offer free SSL, and they are generally not blocked. Encrypted traffic will continue to create blind spots for security controls as privacy activists attempt to encrypt the entire web. With adversaries hiding in plain sight, operating and communicating on encrypted channels and traffic, there will be strong interest in encrypted networks.

See also: Docker and Security: How do they fit together?

Here a breach, there a breach

It seems that every year is considered the “Year of the Breach”, and each year a greater number of high-profile companies are falling victim to breaches. Today, breaches are commonplace and people have started to ignore them. As a result, many feel helpless in the face of these threats, which will push companies to prioritize their response and analysis capabilities, as well as their breach insurance.


Christophe Birkeland

Christophe Birkeland is CTO of Malware Analysis at BlueCoat Systems.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments