What does 2016 hold for cyber security?

As 2016 gets ever closer, staff from network security firm Blue Coat have offered their cyber security predictions for the next 12 months.

Jewels in the Cloud; Thieves in the Cloud

The keys to the kingdom are now in the cloud. As more organisations store their most valuable data in the cloud (customer & 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 we’ll see both increasing in the coming year. A fresh new 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 organisations 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, GoogleDrive, Dropbox and Box continue to increase in popularity; hackers will keep leveraging 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 traffic and channels, there will be strong interest in encrypted networks.

Here a Breach, there a Breach

It seems that every year is deemed the “Year of the Breach,” and each year more and bigger-name companies are falling victim to breaches. Today, breaches are commonplace and people are becoming de-sensitised to them. As a result, many feel helpless against these threats, which will cause companies to prioritise their response and analysis capability, as well as their breach insurance.

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 a start. 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 and as such, treating them like endpoint agents will fail – this will enable the hacker community to exploit IoT vulnerabilities both to get headlines, and for more nefarious purposes (simply turning devices on or off).

Today, ransomware isn’t prevalent for many IoT devices (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 learned, 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. We are starting to see a broader spread in the sophistication level of nation state’s attacks. Some – like Nigeria – are entering the fray with more sophisticated attacks. On the other hand, China and North Korea have done little to evolve their attacks over the last five years. But they are nonetheless successful, in part due to the persistence of these attacks. Russia has evolved significantly in the last 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 more vigorous in intrusion attempts than ever before. We predict that conflicts throughout the world will bring with them hardware-connected attacks.

No Port in a Storm On the heels of the Safe Harbour 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 organisations 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 per cent 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 to get people interested.

Image source: Shutterstock/Maksim Kabakou