Top six cyber security trends

Top six cyber security trends for 2016

DarkMatter cyber security experts: Eric Eifert, Paul Lawson and Robert Statica

The exponential growth of ICT integration with all aspects of our economies, governance and personal lives means that cyber security is likely to remain crucial to the resilience of the global economy in 2016. Below are six trends that we anticipate driving developments in the year ahead.

Cyber attacks will have “real world” impacts

Over the past few years we have witnessed a paradigm shift in cybercrime: attacks have migrated from attacks for fame (past), to attacks for gain (present) and are moving towards attacks for pain (future). The year 2016 could see the rise of cyber mercenaries offering hacking-as-a-service (HAAS) to the highest bidder and the use of cyber attacks against critical computer infrastructure in target countries in support of terrorism, hacktivism, espionage, cybercrime and cyberwar. Attacks on critical infrastructure including the gas and oil distribution systems, power grid, financial markets, air traffic controllers’ networks, nuclear power plants and satellites represent a clear and present danger to the most advanced economies and countries in the world, potentially destabilising a still fragile global economy.

Attacks will move to the Cloud

The lacklustre performance of the global economy will continue to force organisations to tighten their budgets; internal IT departments will feel the pressure as well. More and more organisations will take advantage of Cloud based services, which offer fast and scalable solutions for processing and data storage. This consolidation creates a very attractive target for hackers who will endeavour to gain access to Cloud services used by governments and enterprise, holding their data for ransom. Ransomware attacks, often combined with shrewd social engineering, will likely skyrocket in 2016.

Anything “Smart” will attract more cyber attacks

The hyper-connectivity associated with The Internet of Things (IoT) is increasing functionality, manageability and convenience for the consumer. However, unlike older hardware, many IoT devices have minimum or no security but are embedded in the home, collecting a wealth of the owners’ personal identifiable information (PII). If compromised, these homebased systems could lead to identify theft, exploitation or extortion from VIPs and children.

Defence will become pro-active

As the speed, frequency and complexity of malware attacks increases, passive defence is no longer sufficient. Security Operation Centres (SOCs) are moving from a reactive defensive posture to a more proactive protection posture. SOCs will no longer just focus on traditional detection and response services, but will become active participants in vulnerability management identifying and mitigating vulnerabilities before they can be exploited. SOCs will start to build hunt teams that will proactively search for indicators of compromise. SOCs will likely expand their range of services, leveraging their 24/7/365 operational environment, to provide further round-the-clock capabilities including: insider threat monitoring, data loss prevention, vulnerability management, continuous monitoring, and governance, risk, and compliance.

Big Data and predictive analytics

Big Data is here to stay and so are the accompanying analytics; both play their part in analysing highly sophisticated cyber attacks. Predictive Analytics has been around for a while solving complex marketing and other business related problems. 2016 will see greater use of predictive models in the field of cyber security; these will help predict when an attack might occur using known attack vectors, establish the origin of the attack and identify its key aims.

The growing skills gap

Not all 2016’s problems will be high tech; the demand for skilled cyber security professionals will increase, but finding these skill sets in today’s marketplace will be difficult. This is due to the high demand for top talent that understands security architectures, technologies, Security and Information Event Management (SIEM) systems and correlation, forensics, event management and now, with analytics in the mix, pattern analysis across large, diverse datasets. This is a troubling situation; companies will need to put serious efforts into training, development and retention incentives if they want to keep ahead of the curve.

It’s going to be a challenging year ahead, but with the right planning, commitment to innovation and sensible practices, nations and companies can mitigate, if not completely prevent, cyber security attacks.