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Hacktivism and malware: The security threats we'll face in 2016

The world of online security never stands still, and if the past year has shown us anything it's that you don't need sophisticated technology to launch a successful cyber attack.

Security company Trend Micro (opens in new tab) has released its annual security predictions report outlining the threats it expects to be facing next year. It forecasts continued growth in online extortion, hacktivism and mobile malware, as well as a shift towards an offensive cyber security posture for government entities and corporations.

"We anticipate 2016 to be a very significant year for both sides of the cybercrime equation," says Raimund Genes, CTO of Trend Micro. "Governments and enterprises will begin to see the benefit of cybersecurity foresight, with changes in legislation and the increasing addition of cybersecurity officers within enterprises. In addition, as users become more aware of online threats, attackers will react by developing sophisticated, personalized schemes to target individuals and corporations alike".

The report predicts that 2016 will also mark a significant turning point for malvertising. In the US alone, there has been a 48 per cent increase in users who use ad blocking software, with a 41 per cent increase in global use this year. As a result, advertisers will seek to alter their approach to online ads, and cybercriminals will attempt to find other ways to obtain user information.

Online extortion is expected to grow too, with more sophisticated psychological analysis and social engineering techniques used to lure victims. It also predicts that hacktivists will be driven to expose more incriminating information and may try to systematically destroy targets with high-profile data breaches.

Other key predictions are that variants of mobile malware will grow to 20 million, primarily affecting China, while targeting new mobile payment options globally. Even scarier is the prediction that as more consumer-grade smart devices are used in day-to-day activities, at least one device failure will prove to be be lethal in 2016. This will lead to calls for regulation of device production and usage.

Despite all this, less than 50 per cent of organisations are expected to have cyber security experts on staff by the end of 2016. On the government side though we can expect to see legislation expanding to create a global cyber defense model, allowing for more successful arrests, prosecutions and convictions.

You can read more about the predictions on the Trend Micro site (opens in new tab). Meantime if you think that your smart device is trying to kill you do let us know.

Photo Credit: vinzstudio (opens in new tab)/Shutterstock (opens in new tab)

Ian Barker
Ian Barker

Ian Barker worked in information technology before discovering that writing about computers was easier than fixing them. He has worked for a staff writer on a range of computer magazines including PC Extreme, was editor of PC Utilities, and has written for TechRadar, BetaNews, IT Pro Portal, and LatestGadgets.