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BlackBerry 2023 Predictions: How ransomware, remote work, and AI will impact the future of cybersecurity


Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2023.  Read them in this 15th annual series exclusive.

How ransomware, remote work, and AI will impact the future of cybersecurity

By John McClurg, Senior Vice President and CISO, BlackBerry

We've seen no shortage of innovations in technology throughout 2022. With the introduction of each new solution, however, adversaries are finding ways to take advantage. Organizations, particularly those who falsely believe they don't have anything an adversary would value, may find themselves in peril when it comes to cyberattacks.

As we look ahead to the new year, the following trends should be kept in mind by organizations facing an evolving threat landscape:

Ransomware attacks will grow in sophistication and severity

The threat landscape is rapidly expanding, and bad actors will be relentless in their efforts to carry out more sophisticated attacks. Ransomware will continue to make headlines, as attacks become more destructive, and threat actors develop new attack vectors while leveraging the massive cyber power of quantum computing.

While this technology defines a new, evolving era of advancements in data, quantum computing also offers a new set of opportunities for threat actors to gain access to sensitive information that could immobilize an organization. Security teams need to be vigilant and proactive as attackers continue to seek out innovative and creative ways to work around cybersecurity solutions.

Zero-trust will be necessary in a remote-work world

It appears remote work is here to stay and will increase into 2023. Enterprises should look to adopt a zero-trust architecture and security model to truly secure their remote workforces.  This model is defined by trusting no one and absolutely nothing by default - including users inside an actual network. By assuming every user, device or network is hostile, zero trust security forces everyone to prove who they are before access is authorized. This may seem like an annoying obfuscation that could deteriorate productivity, but a zero-trust architecture backed by strong security AI and analytics can deliver on the promise of zero trust security without becoming a burden on users.

Zero trust represents a new cybersecurity paradigm that offers numerous benefits to organizations of all sizes and industries. Deploying a zero-trust approach to access management can be especially effective, creating a virtual "locking of shields" between governments and the private sector. This allows for closer cooperation to better protect critically important infrastructure and services.

AI will matter more than ever in security

Every year, machines do more to aid the world of mobility, which continues to grow and change. The use of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) offers several benefits to organizations by reducing human error and ensuring security policies are updated to prevent hackers from entering devices and networks. These solutions also help reduce response time and reduce threat alert fatigue on security teams, allowing them to manage threats in a practical way with automated labelling.

AI and ML continue to offer the hope of additional productivity in the form of automated security, serving as a possible solution to burnout among cybersecurity professionals by securing organizations from cyber threats around-the-clock.

However, these new technologies will continue to occasion both excitement and apprehension among industry experts. Security experts have witnessed the damage cybercriminals can cause using AI and ML. Threat actors will not stand flatfooted in the cyber battle space and will become creative, using their immense wealth to try to find ways to leverage AI and develop new attack vectors, rendering cyberattacks more catastrophic.

It's critical for security professionals to gain a practical understanding of the capabilities and limitations of AI and ML, and how to know when to seek an AI/ML solution. Far too many organizations are failing to embrace AI-supported models, with validated conviction rates of ransomware that have been well documented for years.


Data integrity is critical in our hyper-connected world, and the benefits of connectivity should always outweigh the risks if organizations leverage the strengths of AI and ML.  When it comes to cybersecurity preparedness and developing a response plan, the size of an organization is irrelevant in the face of growing threats. Everyone in an organization has a role to play, particularly as we enjoy advancements in technology we have never seen before.



John McClurg, Senior Vice President and CISO, BlackBerry


John McClurg serves as Sr. Vice President and CISO at BlackBerry. McClurg engages the industry around the globe on the risk challenges today and how BlackBerry uniquely mitigates them with the application of machine learning and other AI supported solutions. He champions a move from a historically reactive security posture, to one focused on proactively predicting and mitigating future risks.

Before BlackBerry, McClurg served as the Ambassador-At-Large of Cylance and as Dell's CSO, where his responsibilities included the strategic focus and tactical operations of Dell's internal global security service. He was also charged with the advocacy of business resilience and security prowess, the seamless integration of Dell's security offerings, and with improving the effectiveness and efficiency of security initiatives.

Before Dell, McClurg served as the VP of Global Security at Honeywell International; Lucent/Bell Laboratories; and in the U.S. Intel Community, as a twice-decorated member of the FBI, where he held an assignment with the U.S. Dept of Energy (DOE) as a Branch Chief charged with establishing a Cyber-Counterintelligence program within the DOE's newly created Office of Counterintelligence.

Prior to that, McClurg served as an FBI Supervisory Special Agent, assisting in the establishment of the FBI's new Computer Investigations and Infrastructure Threat Assessment Center, or what is today known as the National Infrastructure Protection Center within the Dept of Homeland Security.

McClurg also served on assignment as a Deputy Branch Chief with the CIA, helping to establish the new Counterespionage Group, and was responsible for the management of complex counterespionage investigations. He additionally served as a Special Agent for the FBI in the Los Angeles Field Office, where he implemented plans to protect critical U.S. technologies targeted for unlawful acquisition by foreign powers and served on one of the nation's first Joint Terrorism Task Forces.

Published Friday, December 02, 2022 7:31 AM by David Marshall
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