Eric Basu | Business to Community
North American households play host to an average of 13 internet connected devices. It’s at times like these when parties of all sizes should be relying on the expertise of IT professionals — however, a recent report showed that more than 80% of cybersecurity experts say there’s a deficit of skilled workers in the sector, and nearly as many said this has a serious impact on the compromising of devices and applications by cyberattacks. That’s the theme of the new year we’re in: no device nor individual is safe from the wrath of cyberattacks.
Take a look at the cybersecurity trends that started in 2016 and are expected to continue to make news throughout the new year.
Malicious Botnet Attacks
Cybersecurity issues have been, and will continue to be, dominated by the rise in botnets targeting Internet of Things (IoT) devices with Distributed Denial-of-Service (DDoS) attacks. In 2016, we saw hackers harnessing the power of smart devices to take down large domains and internet providers, affecting thousands of websites, including Twitter and Spotify. The most notable were two pieces of malware called Mirai and Bashlight which together have enslaved more than a million IoT devices.
There will be an estimated 28.4 billion internet-connected devices this year, up nearly 5.5 billion devices since the previous year. With the number of IoT devices expected to reach 50 billion by 2020, we’ll see a lot more government intervention this year in regards to regulating the security of these connected devices.
That could involve taking the steps proposed by the European Union and the Obama administration: creating independent bodies that will oversee the production and regulation of labels for smart devices. This proposal would give consumers the tools to make more educated cybersecurity choices and force manufacturers to include more stringent security measures.
Overall, Gartner projects that worldwide spending on IoT security will rise to $434 million this coming year.
Need for Proactive Approaches
Another trend we’ll see this year is companies taking a proactive approach to cybersecurity, rather than forming policies strictly as a reaction to a hack.
Proactively addressing cybersecurity involves taking into consideration the weaknesses that come with both IT and human staff. A large part of that involves limiting the number of devices employees use for professional purposes. These devices can create an issue since they bypass the security perimeters meant to protect workplace computers. It’s predicted that by 2018, a quarter of all corporate information will not pass through this security perimeter and will instead travel directly from mobile devices to the cloud.
Workplace security won’t be as straightforward as fitting an account with an employee username and password. Three Mobile, one of the largest mobile companies in the United Kingdom, put six million customers’ personal data at risk this past November when an employee login was used to hack into the system. A similar hack occurred at Talk Talk, another British mobile company, earlier in the year.
With devices becoming increasingly portable and less secure, we will see companies take more precautions with their employees and create defensive cybersecurity systems that address the agility of new devices and dangerous malware.
Vulnerability assessments should be done at all levels to determine the likeliness of an attack, and how to prevent it.
Application Security On the Rise
Organizations will continue to place more of an emphasis on application security throughout this year. That’s according to a recent report that surveyed 475 businesses and organizations in the U.S. More than one-fifth of those involved in the survey said applications were the source of breaches of secure information and cyberattacks.
Organizations are getting better at coordinating their security efforts, though. Forty percent of businesses have some sort of policy that third-party application providers must follow when providing a program or service. The responsibility of application security is being taken more seriously, too. More than one-third of organizations claimed that their application security programs are maturing.
Fake News & Social Media
Social media and fake news monitoring will become a part of company’s’ cybersecurity strategies.
As the dust settled on the 2016 American election, people wanted to know if fake news articles played a role in the outcome. The Pew Research Center found that 62% of all Americans rely on social media for their news, with 44% of them using Facebook as their number one source.
Fake news sites came in a number of forms, from aggregators that rewrote stories with inflammatory headlines to articles with fake statistics and false reports about the candidates.
While not a hack in the traditional sense, fake news sites and hyper-partisan social media accounts play a role in corroding trust and blurring the line between fact and fiction. In 2017, we will see companies start to protect themselves from this kind of attack by incorporating social security measures into their cybersecurity best practices and processes.
It will be up to programmers and engineers to rewrite algorithms and develop monitoring tools to detect spam-ridden content and false information. But until this picks up, users will have to navigate their social streams more critically than ever before to distinguish genuine engagement from false persuasion.
Increased Security Is the Big-Picture Trend
From hijacked IoT devices to published propaganda, both companies and individuals are on high alert in terms of cybersecurity this year. We can expect to see businesses adopt security measures that address some of these rising concerns which will mean greater security for consumers, too.
Is your company doing something different in the way of cybersecurity in 2017?
Eric Basu is the founder and CEO for Sentek Global. He’s a former U.S. Navy SEAL Commander who graduated from San Jose State University with a Bachelor of Science in Molecular Biology and holds an MBA from Anderson Graduate School of Management (UCLA)