Politics And International Malware Mayhem – Predictions For 2017

By   ISBuzz Team
Writer , Information Security Buzz | Jan 18, 2017 10:00 am PST

As 2017 approaches, the scale and sophistication of cyber-threats seems only destined to grow as criminals and state-backed groups learn how to exploit the weak-points in businesses and governmental organisations around the globe.

If 2016 is anything to go by, unless enterprises change their approaches to cyber-security, 2017 will be another a year of successful ransomware attacks and data-breaches.

For Glasswall, however, 2016 proved to be a year of forward momentum, with enterprises increasingly aware that our cyber-security solutions will protect them from the ever-growing threat of file-based malware attacks.

Glasswall solutions are constantly being developed by our experts, aided by our advisory council that includes some of the most highly-respected names in cyber-security around the globe. With the New Year in sight, our experts have used their deep experience in both the private and public sectors to devise a series of predictions about how they see the coming 12 months. They make it plain that nobody can rest on their laurels, as political changes and new areas of focus for criminals and state-sponsored organisations take effect.

Cedric Leighton, retired United States Air Force Colonel and former Deputy Director at the National Security Agency. Now providing insights as CNN’s military and cyber-security analyst.

  • Politics plays into the cyber-sphere

“Political upheavals will ripple out into the cyber-security world in various ways.  Dangers will increase from the proliferation of cyber weapons among new state-sponsored agencies and non-governmental groups and actors. All will have powerful new forms of malware at their disposal that conventional AV approaches will initially be incapable of detecting.

“Unfortunately, any thaw in US-Russian relations may be offset by increased tensions between the US and China. The latter may well freeze any efforts to normalise the cyber-relationships between these two countries. Continued growth in cyber-attacks will push international and domestic bodies to heighten their security expectations of major commercial organisations, organs of government and infrastructure operators.  This is likely to cause further friction between governmental surveillance agencies and privacy advocates.”

Simon Taylor, VP Product Management at Glasswall, and formerly head of IT Operations across the Americas for HSBC.

  • The Internet of Crimes

2017 will see an increase in major breaches of organisations by criminals using the Internet of Things (IoT). As such attacks increase in severity, there may well be the first attack on critical infrastructure that results in loss of life.

More devices, expanding networks – as the IoT grows in 2017 it will present criminals with an increasingly strung-out perimeter which they can successfully penetrate long before organisations are aware of any breach.

‘Extortionware’ and ‘sextortion’ will become widely-used terms as ransom attacks morph and develop, enabling botnets to take control of cameras and automation devices after gaining backdoor access to networks. As virtual and augmented reality become part of the IoT technology used every day in many areas of business, the cyber-security sector is going to face new challenges that few companies will be able to handle

Nick Banks, VP Global Sales at Glasswall, with 18 years experience working with market leading technologies in cyber security.

  • Malware mayhem

“As traditional AV defences are breached, it will be apparent that the structures of common file-types such as Word, Excel, PowerPoint and PDFs are increasingly where criminals hide their exploits, rather than in the content. Macros and embedded files will remain dangers, but it is the file-structure that will be used to disguise the threats.

“Already Glasswall has found that over a three-month period, between 70 and 90 per cent of threats were within the structure of the PDFs, compared with no more than 20 per cent for threats inside content. This is a trend set to continue and evolve, with 2017 the year when traditional AV security is exposed as an inadequate response to the rapid increase in the number and complexity of cyber-threats. Enterprises will want assurances that what they are paying for will not only stop cyber-threats that are known, but will also protect them from the exploits hidden in file-structures, against which AV security is of no use on its own. Organisations no longer want to hear excuses about zero-day attacks, which are just different ways of saying ‘you have not been protected’.”

Greg Sim, CEO, Glasswall Solutions.

  • The chiefs will be speared

“Anyone with ‘Chief’ in their title will become a target, requiring greater levels of protection as criminals set their sights on specific job roles and individuals within organisations, not just systems. Security policies will address how these key personnel need to be protected at work and leisure as spear-phishing and social engineering techniques gather momentum and become ever more sophisticated. Secretaries and personal assistants will have to come under this umbrella of enhanced security.

“Enterprises will review how these senior employees and their immediate staff use social media, using the results to cut out bad habits. In addition, organisations will examine how they can slash their levels of risk and exposure by examining every aspect of the documents and files they use to communicate both internally and externally.”

Steve Katz, the world’s first Chief Information Security Officer (Citigroup and JP Morgan) and Glasswall director.

  • Europe and the supply chain

“Internet governance will zoom further into the foreground before the European General Data Protection Regulation comes into force in 2018. As organisations seek to avoid the hefty fines (up to four per cent of annual revenue) they will inject more energy and investment into their cyber-security, requiring trading partners too to show evidence of active compliance.

“The trust-based, free pass into a company’s network will become a thing of the past, as supply chain partners are required to prove they have compliant solutions in place to counter evolving cyber-threats. Businesses that fail to implement more than traditional AV security may find themselves cut out of the commercial equation. Any business that suffers a data-breach is likely to be viewed as a pariah, leading to the development of more sophisticated cyber-insurance products and increasing emphasis on sharing of data about threats and attacks.”

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