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14 Cyber Security Predictions for 2017

Researchers at Intel Security have identified 14 cyber threats to watch in 2017. The insights were released today in the organization's McAfee Labs 2017 Threats Predictions Report. The report "examines current trends in cybercrime and makes predictions about what the future may hold for organizations working to take advantage of new technologies to both advance their businesses and provide better security protection," according to a company statement.

The 14 predictions from the report are:

  1. Ransomware attacks will decrease in volume and effectiveness in the second half of 2017.
  2. Windows vulnerability exploits will continue to decline, while those targeting infrastructure software and virtualization software will increase.
  3. Hardware and firmware will be increasingly targeted by sophisticated attackers.
  4. Hackers using software running on laptops will attempt "dronejackings" for a variety of criminal or hacktivist purposes.
  5. Mobile attacks will combine mobile device locks with credential theft, allowing cyber thieves to access such things as banks accounts and credit cards.
  6. IoT malware will open backdoors into the connected home that could go undetected for years.
  7. Machine learning will accelerate the proliferation of and increase the sophistication of social engineering attacks.
  8. Fake ads and purchased "likes" will continue to proliferate and erode trust.
  9. Ad wars will escalate and new techniques used by advertisers to deliver ads will be copied by attackers to boost malware delivery capabilities.
  10. Hacktivists will play an important role in exposing privacy issues.
  11. Leveraging increased cooperation between law enforcement and industry, law enforcement takedown operations will put a dent in cybercrime.
  12. Threat intelligence sharing will make great developmental strides in 2017.
  13. Cyber espionage will become as common in the private sector and criminal underworld as it is among nation-states.
  14. Physical and cybersecurity industry players will collaborate to harden products against digital threats.

"To change the rules of the game between attackers and defenders, we need to neutralize our adversaries' greatest advantages," said Vincent Weafer, vice president of Intel Security's McAfee Labs, in a press release. "As a new defensive technique is developed, its effectiveness increases until attackers are compelled to develop countermeasures to evade it. To overcome the designs of our adversaries, we need to go beyond understanding the threat landscape to changing the defender-attacker dynamics in six key areas: information asymmetry, making attacks more expensive, improving visibility, better identifying exploitation of legitimacy, improving protection for decentralized data, and detecting and protecting in agentless environments."

The report also offered a number of predictions on cloud security and the Internet of Things, including:

  • Trust in the cloud will increase, leading to more sensitive data and processing in the cloud, leading to more interest in attacking the cloud.
  • We will continue to see conflicts of speed, efficiency and cost pitted against control, visibility and security in cloud offerings.
  • Antiquated authentication schemes and their control systems will continue to be the weakest technology link in cloud protection; many attacks will focus first on credential theft.
  • Gaps in coverage between service layers, and inconsistent settings or controls are the second weakest link; attackers will successfully exploit these gaps and inconsistencies.
  • Attackers, including for-hire attackers, will use clouds for scale, speed and anonymity.
  • "Denial of service for ransom" will become a common attack against cloud service providers and cloud-based organizations.
  • Except for those based on credential weaknesses, successful public cloud data breaches will continue to be small in number, but they will have a growing impact.
  • Growth in the number and variety of Internet of Things devices will break some cloud security models, leading to successful attacks through these devices.
  • IoT devices will be useful attack vectors into control, surveillance, and information systems.
  • The control plane of IoT devices will be a prime target; aggregation points, where data from devices is collected, will also be a prime target.
  • Ransomware will attack Internet-enabled medical devices.

Finally, the report pointed to key problems that organizations need to solve in order to improve threat defense effectiveness. According to the researchers, the security industry needs to reduce information asymmetry between defenders and attackers; make attacks more expensive or less profitable; improve visibility into cyber events; better identify exploitation of legitimacy; improve protection for decentralized data; and detect and protect in agentless environments.

The full report is available on the McAfee Labs site.

About the Author

Rhea Kelly is editor in chief for Campus Technology, THE Journal, and Spaces4Learning. She can be reached at [email protected].

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