In the year ahead, businesses of all sizes must prepare for the unknown so they have the flexibility to withstand unexpected and high impact security events. To take advantage of emerging trends in both technology and cyberspace, businesses need to manage risks in ways beyond those traditionally handled by the information security function, since new attacks will most certainly impact both shareholder value and business reputation.
After reviewing the current threat landscape, there are four dominant security threats that we at the Information Security Forum believe businesses need to prepare for in 2019. These include, but are not limited to:
- The Increased Sophistication of Cybercrime and Ransomware
- The Impact of Legislation
- Smart Devises Challenge Data Integrity
- The Myth of Supply Chain Assurance
We’ve provided an overview for each of these areas below:
The Increased Sophistication of Cybercrime and Ransomware
Criminal organizations will continue their ongoing development and become increasingly more sophisticated. Some organizations will have roots in existing criminal structures, while others will emerge focused purely on cybercrime. Organizations will also struggle to keep pace with this increased sophistication and the impact will extend worldwide, with malware in general and ransomware, in particular, becoming the leading means of attack. While overall damages arising from ransomware attacks are difficult to calculate, some estimates suggest that there was a global loss in excess of $5 billion in 2017. Overall, the volume of new mobile malware families grew significantly throughout 2017, in particular, mobile ransomware. This should be expected to continue in 2019. Email-based attacks such as spam and phishing (including targeted spear phishing) are most commonly used to obtain an initial foothold on a victim’s device. Cybercriminals behind ransomware will shift their attention to smart and personal devices as a means of spreading targeted malware attacks.
The Impact of Legislation
National and regional legislators and regulators that are already trying to keep pace with existing developments will fall even further behind the needs of a world eagerly grasping revolutionary technologies. At present, organizations have insufficient knowledge and resources to keep abreast of current and pending legislation. Additionally, legislation by its nature is government and regulator driven, resulting in a move towards national regulation at a time when cross border collaboration is needed. Organizations will struggle to keep abreast of such developments which may also impact business models which many have taken for granted. This will be of a particular challenge to cloud implementations where understanding the location of cloud data has been an oversight.
Smart Devices Challenge Data Integrity
Organizations will adopt smart devices with enthusiasm, not realizing that these devices are often insecure by design and therefore offer many opportunities for attackers. In addition, there will be an increasing lack of transparency in the rapidly-evolving IoT ecosystem, with vague terms and conditions that allow organizations to use personal data in ways customers did not intend. It will be problematic for organizations to know what information is leaving their networks or what is being secretly captured and transmitted by devices such as smartphones, smart TVs or conference phones. When breaches occur, or transparency violations are revealed, organizations will be held liable by regulators and customers for inadequate data protection.
The Myth of Supply Chain Assurance
Supply chains are a vital component of every organization’s global business operations and the backbone of today’s global economy. However, a range of valuable and sensitive information is often shared with suppliers and, when that information is shared, direct control is lost. In 2019, organizations will discover that assuring the security of their supply chain is a lost cause. Instead, it is time to refocus on managing their key data and understanding where and how it has been shared across multiple channels and boundaries, irrespective of supply chain provider. This will cause many organizations to refocus on the traditional confidentiality and integrity components of the information security mix, placing an additional burden on already overstretched security departments. Businesses that continue to focus on assuring supply chain security with traditional approaches, such as self-certified audit and assurance, may preserve the illusion of security in the short term but will discover to their peril that the security foundations they believed to be in place were lacking.
Don’t Get Left Behind
Today, the stakes are higher than ever before, and we’re not just talking about personal information and identity theft anymore. High-level corporate secrets and critical infrastructure are constantly under attack and organizations need to be aware of the emerging threats that have shifted in the past year, as well as those that they should prepare for in the coming year.
By adopting a realistic, broad-based, collaborative approach to cyber-security and resilience, government departments, regulators, senior business managers and information security professionals will be better able to understand the true nature of cyber-threats and respond quickly and appropriately. This will be of the highest importance in 2019 and beyond.
About the Author
Steve Durbin is Managing Director of the Information Security Forum (ISF). His main areas of focus include strategy, information technology, cybersecurity and the emerging security threat landscape across both the corporate and personal environments. Previously, he was senior vice president at Gartner.