We face a future of increasingly subtle and sophisticated threat actors. It is a world where traditional clues and indicators are no longer enough on their own. Information is wielded as a weapon, misdirection is King, and global networks of connected devices can paralyze the internet. Then what are the threats that businesses and consumers in 2017 need to be careful about?
Threat predictions for 2017:
Indicators of compromise: IOC helps detect an active infection, but as we have noticed the IOC’s are on the decline. These days the cyber criminals use components that are tailored according to each of their victims, which in turn makes the IOCs useless.
Attribution will flounder among false flags: As cyberattacks come to play a greater role in international relations, attribution will become a central issue in determining a political course of action – such as retaliation. The pursuit of attribution could result in the risk of more criminals dumping infrastructure or proprietary tools on the open market, or opting for open-source and commercial malware, not to mention the widespread use of misdirection (generally known as false flags) to muddy the waters of attribution.
The rise of information warfare: In 2016, the world started to take seriously the dumping of hacked information for aggressive purposes. Such attacks are likely to increase in 2017, and there is a risk that attackers will try to exploit people’s willingness to accept such data as fact by manipulating or selectively disclosing information.
Alongside this, Kaspersky Lab expects to see a rise in vigilante hackers: Hacking and dumping data, allegedly for the greater good.
Growing vulnerability to cyber sabotage: As critical infrastructure and manufacturing systems remain connected to the internet, often with little or no protection – the temptation to damage or disrupt them could prove overwhelming for cyber attackers, particularly those with advanced skills, and during times of rising geopolitical tension.
Espionage goes mobile: Kaspersky Lab expects to see more espionage campaigns targeted primarily at mobile, benefiting from the fact that the security industry can struggle to gain full access to mobile operating systems for forensic analysis.
The commoditization of financial attacks: Kaspersky Lab expects to see the commodification of attacks along the lines of the 2016 SWIFT heists in 2016 – with specialized resources being offered for sale in underground forums or through as-a-service schemes.
The compromise of payment systems: As payment systems become increasingly popular and common especially after demonetization in India, Kaspersky Lab expects to see this matched by a greater criminal interest.
The breakdown of trust in ransomware: Kaspersky Lab also anticipates the continuing rise of ransomware, but with the unlikely trust relationship between the victim and their attacker – based on the assumption that payment will result in the return of data - damaged as a lesser grade of criminal decides to enter the space. This could be the turning point in people being prepared to pay up.
Device integrity in an over-crowded internet: As IoT-device manufacturers continue to pump out unsecured devices that cause wide-scale problems, there is a risk that vigilante hackers could take matters into their own hands and disable as many devices as possible.
The criminal appeal of digital advertising: Over the next year, we will see the kind of tracking and targeting tools increasingly used in advertising being used to monitor alleged activists and dissidents. Similarly, ad networks, which provide excellent target profiling through a combination of IPs, browser fingerprinting, browsing interest and login selectivity – will be used by advanced cyberespionage actors keen to precisely hit targets while protecting their latest toolkits.
The author is MD, Kaspersky Lab, South Asia.
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