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Akamai 2018 Predictions: What Akamai Expects from Cybersecurity in 2018

VMblog Predictions 2018

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2018.  Read them in this 10th annual series exclusive.

Contributed by Martin McKeay, Global Security Advocate, Akamai

What Akamai expects from cybersecurity in 2018

It's time for organizations to start planning our IT budgets and cybersecurity defenses to defend against the threats they will face in the coming year. But first what should they expect from hackers?

Everything. This may sound flippant, but the truth is that everything we've built as the foundation of our security practices is rapidly changing. The rate of change will accelerate in 2018, with no indicators of slowing down in the near future. In 2017 we saw the time businesses have to patch their systems shrink from months or years to weeks or days. No one needs an 0-Day if they know your business doesn't have a patching window until the end of the quarter or that you'll probably miss one or two servers no one was administrating. We saw some of the biggest DDoS attacks ever in late 2016 and through 2017. The threat of a series of DDoS attacks that exceed 1 Tbps looms over us, in a very real sense.

To prepare for this reality, here are some of the highlights that I think we will see in the cybersecurity industry in 2018.

Fear of the organized threat actor

The biggest threat facing us in 2018 is organized threat actors. 2017 showed us that businesses are facing criminal organizations, hackers backed by competitors and even nation states. We've long suspected this would be the case, but it's becoming increasingly clear that the level of sophistication and tenacity shown by these attackers is far beyond the opportunistic hacking many enterprises are currently prepared to defend against. Because attribution is so hard and proving who the attackers were is nearly impossible for most organizations, the hacks will be more brazen as the year goes by. Consumers have made it clear that new features and cost are much more important than security or privacy when it comes to IoT. Because of this, these devices continue to be built with little or no concern for security and they will continue to be abused to fuel DDoS campaigns and other types of attacks. Even more secure devices like phones and tablets are being targeted for their greater computing power, to be used by malware such as WireX in DDoS attacks and ad scams.

Hacker motivations shift from curious to criminal

The motivation of hackers is increasingly moving from the curious individual to organized crime and nation state actors, where hacking is simply a day job. It becomes the source of a paycheck, which is both good and bad for defenders. On one hand, drawing a paycheck is often less motivation for pushing boundaries and finding new vulnerabilities to the hacker, meaning they'll try the same tried and true tactics that have worked before. On the other hand, because it's a job, hackers will have greater resources and more confederates to help build out specific tools than ever before. Organized hackers will be much more dangerous than individuals or small groups could ever be.

The future for biometrics in security

Biometrics are a complex question for security. We're already using complex biometrics on our phones and other devices to provide security, often with mixed results. But the downside of those controls is that we're also providing data on how we live our lives in order to provide that questionable security. It's impossible to change a thumb print if a database was compromised and the owners were improperly recording and securing the biometric data. The larger theme of biometrics is also incredibly complex when it comes to the health data of individuals. Activity trackers are the quintessential example, we can record heart rate, blood pressure and almost any other biometric an individual might want to pay for. But that data can be used against the individual, either by someone who steals the data or by an employer who legally collects the data and decides an employee is a health risk. There are years of wrangling to come from the legal and ethical standpoint of this data.

Time for security professionals to reevaluate their tools

IT professionals should be using the end of the year as a regular reminder to reexamine and evaluate the security controls throughout their enterprises. The threat landscape has changed significantly in the last year. The biggest impact the security team can have is to understand how effective their current protections are against threats. The controls that were seen as effective enough in 2017 may be less effective than needed for 2018, so performing a new evaluation of effectiveness and risk is essential. Cleaning up the technologies and processes enterprises already have in place needs to be the priority for the security team, because the far greater number of attacks will continue to be against targets we already know how to defend. This is why phishing continues to be so effective for attackers and why the edge case server that went unpatched is so dangerous to the enterprise


About the Author

Martin McKeay 

Martin McKeay is Akamai's Global Security Advocate and lead author of its State of the Internet Security Report, Akamai's quarterly report on DDoS and other threats. He joined the company in 2011. With over fifteen years of experience in the security space and five years of direct payment card industry work, Martin has provided expertise to hundreds of companies. He has spoken at events in the US, Europe, Asia and Australia, including RSA, Black Hat, Defcon and FIRST.  He is a member of Europol's European Cybercrime Center Internet Advisory Committee.

Published Friday, December 15, 2017 7:55 AM by David Marshall
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