5 cyber security predictions for 2017

Justin Fier, Director of Cyber Intelligence | Friday December 16, 2016

Between the Yahoo hack, the DNC email leak, and the DDoS attack that took down much of the Internet, 2016 has seen an unprecedented wave of cyber-attacks.

But these headlines offer but a glimpse into the cyber-war that’s waged every day on a grand scale. Evolving threats and new vulnerabilities mean this war is in a state of constant flux. By analysing current security trends, however, we can try to gauge what the attacks of the future will look like.

These are my predictions for 2017:

  1. Attackers won’t just steal data — they’ll change it
    Criminals aren’t just looking to make a quick buck anymore. They’re playing the long con. By subtly manipulating information, they can inflict reputational damage, erode the integrity of data, or even influence public opinion via ‘fake news’.
  2. Insider threats will rise dramatically
    As networks become busier and more complex, indications of insider threat will get lost in the noise of the network. Yet, these subtle changes could represent thousands of files being removed by a careless employee.
  3. The Internet of Things will become the Internet of Vulnerabilities
    According to Gartner, 13.5 billion connected devices will be in use by 2020. The Dyn attack exploited these smart devices to devastating effect, and future attacks will continue to use vulnerabilities in the IoT for large-scale attacks.
  4. Consumer devices will be held hostage
    In 2016 alone, ransomware has skyrocketed by 400 percent. It’s only a matter of time until these attacks start to target consumer devices. Your smart TV, your phone, your computer, even your car could be held for ransom.
  5. Artificial intelligence will go dark
    AI will soon become a cyber-weapon. Highly sophisticated and persistent attacks will use AI to bypass traditional defenses. From the shadows, they’ll be able to manipulate data, launch advanced phishing campaigns, steal sensitive files, or activate a kill-switch.

But there is hope. If we can forecast the upcoming threats, we can better prepare ourselves for the challenges to come. Our security strategies for the new year should be designed with these threats in mind.

In the meantime, on behalf of everyone here at Darktrace, we hope you have a wonderful holiday, a happy New Year, and a cyber-safe 2017.

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About the authors

Justin Fier

Justin Fier is the Director for Cyber Intelligence & Analytics at Darktrace, based in Washington D.C. Justin is one of the US’s leading cyber intelligence experts, and his insights have been widely reported in leading media outlets, including Wall Street Journal, CNN, the Washington Post, and VICELAND. With over 10 years of experience in cyber defense, Justin has supported various elements in the US intelligence community, holding mission-critical security roles with Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman Mission Systems and Abraxas. Justin is also a highly-skilled technical specialist, and works with Darktrace’s strategic global customers on threat analysis, defensive cyber operations, protecting IoT, and machine learning.

Dave Palmer

Dave Palmer is the Director of Technology at Darktrace, overseeing the mathematics and engineering teams and project strategies. With over ten years of experience at the forefront of government intelligence operations, Palmer has worked across UK intelligence agencies GCHQ & MI5, where he delivered mission-critical infrastructure services, including the replacement and security of entire global networks, the development of operational internet capabilities and the management of critical disaster recovery incidents. He holds a first-class degree in Computer Science and Software Engineering from the University of Birmingham.

Andrew Tsonchev

Andrew advises Darktrace’s strategic Fortune 500 customers on advanced threat detection, machine learning and autonomous response. He has a technical background in threat analysis and research, and holds a first-class degree in physics from Oxford University and a first-class degree in philosophy from King’s College London. He was most recently featured on BBC World, BBC Morning and Al Jazeera to comment on the news regarding the GRU.

Max Heinemeyer

Max is a cyber security expert with over eight years’ experience in the field specializing in network monitoring and offensive security. At Darktrace, Max works with strategic customers to help them investigate and respond to threats as well as overseeing the cyber security analyst team in the Cambridge UK headquarters. Prior to his current role, Max led the Threat and Vulnerability Management department for Hewlett-Packard in Central Europe. He was a member of the German Chaos Computer Club, working as a white hat hacker in penetration testing and red teaming engagements. Max holds a MSc from the University of Duisburg-Essen and a BSc from the Cooperative State University Stuttgart in International Business Information Systems.