Top 2017 Predictions for the Evolving Security Landscape

Chip Witt, Senior Product Manager, Threat Intelligence, HPE Security Research, Hewlett Packard Enterprise
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You don’t have to be a data scientist or cyber security professional to conclude that there will be more ransomware attacks in 2017. However, predictions that are truly game changing with the potential to radically affect the way organizations look at protecting their systems against attacks is much more challenging. I’ll take on the challenge though and share what I believe will surface as the top four trends to lookout for in 2017.

IoT Security will Finally Become a Major Attack Vector

The industry has been talking about the security challenges IoT devices present for a few years, but 2017will see attacks truly proliferate with the exponential adoption of connected devices and their associated (lack of) security. IoT sensors, with their limited computing power are only as secure as the firmware running on them, which means that their security posture depends on the readiness of device manufacturers to quickly react to attacks when they happen. Successful attacks on IoT sensors are difficult to detect because of the limited access to device’s system state, insufficient computing power for endpoint protection software to be installed on them, and lack of security compliance standards for IoT security best practices.

While it is likely that more security features will be built into IoT devices in 2017, making IoT inherently more secure, a large number of existing insecure devices will be used as the platform to launch targeted breaches and DDoS attacks. This is evident from the DDoS attack by the Mirai IoT worm botnet that caused a significant disruption for users. The trend will likely lead many companies to rethink the approach of protecting their Internet-facing services against the DDoS attacks. Organizations will need to ensure they are implementing proper application security testing of connected devices and taking a data centric approach that protects the sensitive information throughout its lifecycle with proven encryption and tokenization techniques.

  The struggle to protect systems, data and users is an ongoing battle that is constantly shifting and evolving 

The SWIFT Breaches are Just the Beginning

In 2017, there will be an increase in the number of reported attacks on banking services and banking system breaches, following the successful attacks on the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunication (SWIFT) electronic transaction systems in 2016. This will only be the beginning as banks discover more attacks, and realize that sharing details about them is the responsible thing to do. The additional sharing of intel and analysis surrounding these attacks will be for the betterment of the industry as a whole. In addition, as attacks on financial and banking systems become more sophisticated, it will be critical for organizations to adopt a holistic approach to security that builds in data protection and application security, as well as security monitoring for rapid detection and response.

Attacks Get Political

During the last few years, the majority of security attacks have been financially motivated. While this will still likely be the case, in 2017 there will be an increase in politically motivated cyber attacks conducted by the world’s cyber superpowers. Those attacks will likely result in disclosure of confidential documents and information with the goal of compromising the target’s reputation. However, attributing attacks to nation states will also be increasingly difficult and there are likely to be many incorrect identifications of attackers to collect political points and deny responsibility for breaches.

The Power of DDoS

Politically motivated attacks tie closely with the last security trend for 2017, which is the ever-increasing DDoS force that will be used to attack Internet infrastructure of whole countries in support of a physical military attack. With increased military tensions in several places across the world today, it is possible we will see more DDoS attacks in 2017 dedicated to taking whole countries offline. The DDoS attack firepower in 2016increased to frightening levels, allowing attackers to launch DDoS attacks with bandwidth in the range of Tbps, requiring specialized and sophisticated DDoS protection, which can be provided only by a few organizations in the world today.

A Look Ahead

In the end, predictions are just that, with some of them almost certain to be fulfilled, and others that will never come to fruition as new and unpredicted issues emerge. Looking further ahead, one thing is certain -technology will continue to enhance the world in countless ways, but it will also make the challenge of implementing security and privacy into our digital lives more difficult.

The struggle to protect systems, data and users is an ongoing battle that is constantly shifting and evolving. A strong security program requires continued investment and commitment. Improved security products, increased attack information sharing within communities, better user education, and a thorough understanding of new threats will allow organizations to keep increasing the costs for adversaries, making it less feasible and valuable for them to implement an attack.

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