Virtualization Technology News and Information
Gemalto 2016 Predictions: Here We Go Again

Virtualization and Cloud executives share their predictions for 2016.  Read them in this 8th Annual series exclusive.

Contributed by Jason Hart, Vice President and CTO for Data Protection, Gemalto

2016: Here We Go Again

At the end of every year, a number of industry leaders pull together their predictions for what they expect to happen over the next twelve months. Sometimes we're right, and other times we're way off. In last year's Security's Awkward Adolescence, I talked about 2015 being the year that we would start taking data breaches more seriously, and the numbers kept us on our toes.

According to the Breach Level Index, 888 data breaches occurred the first six months of 2015, compromising 246 million records worldwide. The largest breach in the first half of 2015 was an identity theft attack on Anthem Insurance that exposed 78.8 million records, representing almost a third (32%) of the total data records stolen in the first six months of 2015. Other notable breaches included a 21-million-record breach at the U.S. Office of Personnel Management; a 50-million-record breach at Turkey's General Directorate of Population and Citizenship Affairs; and a 20-million-record breach at Russia's Topface.  And the tragic events in Beirut and Paris this past month have kept encryption - and the tug between privacy and security - in the headlines.

Against that backdrop, I want to offer up a number of 2016 predictions that will hopefully get us to start talking about ways to get ahead of the cyberthreats that are becoming more ferocious and difficult to detect. Like most people that work in this industry, I really hope that many of these predictions don't come true, but believe that we need to start with vigilance and awareness.

  1. We will see an uptick in precise and targeted attacks on PHI, PII, and intellectual property data. This kind of information is the new oil. When oil pioneers started harvesting and refining "rock oil" in the mid 19th century, there wasn't all that much demand.  Slowly, as more and more uses were identified for the various refinery byproducts - from kerosene for lamps to gasoline for the burgeoning automobile industry - demand grew and the economy around oil grew with it.   Today's hackers are in a similar "Wild West" environment, one in which they are collecting massive amounts of data - from personally identifiable information to Social Security numbers, credit card numbers and even healthcare records - with the intent of figuring out its best uses at a later date.  They're no longer just targeting data for its immediate value, but instead are intent with its eventual value that will come from repurposing stolen data for future attacks.

  2. Data integrity attacks will become the new "cash cow" for hackers. Today's connected world constantly generates mounds of data that businesses, industry pros and analysts use to drive decisions, make projections, issue forecasts and more. For sophisticated hackers, it's not about stealing data anymore; it's about accessing and changing it. They can take actions that are difficult to detect that lead to lucrative paydays that may take years to impact a company or industry. Over time, bad data can lower or raise the prices of stocks, enabling hackers to earn high dividends. When it comes to entire industries - agriculture, for example - yield projections can be manipulated and hackers can seize investment opportunities based on erroneous data. For those with an axe to grind, corrupt data can force poor corporate decision-making and take down a company.  And throughout it all, until the pain is felt, data integrity attacks remain invisible.

  3. Cybersecurity will continue to be a hot topic in the boardroom as companies try to understand their legal and insurance needs due to seemingly ongoing data breaches. However, we'll continue to see businesses struggle with misaligned or missing technical expertise around their security strategies. Simply put, many businesses still do not understand the data that they should be protecting, where it is, and how to defend it.

  4. We will see an uptick in companies arguing to make two-factor authentication mandatory due to the ongoing trend of password insecurity. The reality is that passwords are not secure, no matter how complicated or clever we make them.  Making them more complex, per the stern instructions we receive when setting up our myriad personal and professional accounts, only really helps to prevent an amateur intruder from guessing the password.  It does not stop a sophisticated attacker, capable of viewing the password as you type it in, no matter how many different alphanumeric characters it contains.

  5. APIs will soon become an attack vector capable of delivering the "motherlode" of stolen data to thieves. When an API is hacked, hackers can gain easy access to security keys themselves. If a mission-critical application is impacted, it could expose data from all users. A compromised API - even for an encryption-protected application - would throw the doors open to sensitive information most prized by hackers at countless companies. In short, when an API is successfully targeted, all the application traffic "under it" could be available.


Published Thursday, December 03, 2015 6:32 AM by David Marshall
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