About 12 months ago, we told you that 2014 would surely go down in history as the year of the hacker. At that time, we noted that more breaches would come in 2015. And come they did. In fact, we seemed to be writing about one data breach or another every week.
We reported on several hotel breaches, plenty of retail breaches, software breaches, dating site breaches, app breaches, in-vehicle system breaches, and more.
One of the most notable was the breach of cheating Web site Ashley Madison that threatened the private information of 37 million customers. Beyond the hassle of identity theft, there were tragic reports of people committing suicide after being exposed on a public list.
We caught up with Brian Contos, chief security strategist and senior vice president of field engineering at Norse, which provides live attack cybersecurity intelligence, to get his thoughts on what lies ahead in 2016. He offered us 10 predictions. Here are five of them:
1. IoT on the Radar
“There will be more attack types aimed at IoT, in particular home automation, physical security, DVRs and automobiles,” Contos said. This makes sense, given the rapid rise of the Internet of Things (IoT). Global consulting firm McKinsey & Company predicted that the potential economic impact of the IoT could reach $11.1 trillion per year in 2025.
2. Pawns Emerging
“We’ll see a higher number of emerging countries being used as an attack surface as their infrastructure matures and they become more connected,” Contos said. “Examples include less industrialized Latin American, African and Southeast Asian countries.”
3. Industrial Espionage
“IP theft for competitive reasons -- such as industrial espionage -- will rise, as will marketplaces designed to buy and sell this IP,” Contos said. In fact, the FBI is already reporting Chinese involvement amid what it calls a sharp rise in economic espionage cases.
4. New Malware Designs
“There will be more malware designed to evade legacy sandboxing techniques,” Contos said. That’s bad news, given the rapid spread of malware in 2015. Researchers at German security firm G Data said that the first half of this year saw 12 new malware families a minute. Yes, that's every 60 seconds.
That means 3,045,722 new strains of malware were identified in the first half of 2015, slightly lower than in the second half of 2014 but 64.8 percent higher than the first six months of last year, according to the researchers.
5. Industrial Targets
“We’ll see cybercriminals continue to target industrial control systems,” said Contos. Kaspersky Lab has called targeted attacks on industrial control systems the biggest threat to critical national infrastructure.