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Global cyber security threats

Rachel Pulizzi

As any good cyber security specialist knows, we live in an age of constant progression and change. New technologies are being developed and adapted for different uses daily, making it difficult to predict where the next attack may come from. So, let’s take a look at which technologies present the greatest threats for cyber security around the world and how you can better prepare for them.

The battle for automation

Both artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning have enormous potential when it comes to cyber security. Not only can they make processes more cost and time efficient, but they can adapt at a much faster rate and respond to attacks in real-time. Yet, as we continue to explore the capabilities of both AI and machine learning, one thing is very clear; automation has the potential to be used for both good and evil – it’s just a matter of what develops faster. Security specialists not only need to understand how AI and machine learning could help aid defence against attack, but to also be anticipating the ways in which attackers might use these technologies against them.

The risk of more personal data

With data breaches growing year-on-year, it’s almost become the norm for many of us to expect that our passwords have been stolen at some point or another. Biometrics have been hailed by many as a safer way to secure your data and technology than passwords. They are unique to each individual, aren’t guessable or transferrable, but they do still come with risks. Cyber attackers are now looking for ways to steal or ‘spoof’ our biometric data rather than just steal our passwords, which opens us up to much more personalised attacks in the long-run. The next few years could see a rapid increase in identity theft related attacks, ranging from stolen finger prints to faked video clips. Experts should understand the limitations of using biometrics, as well as the benefits. Biometrics alone may be more vulnerable to attack. Security specialists may want to explore a type of two factor authentication for biometrics, which takes into account behaviours about what the user is doing at the time (where they are, when it is).

The opportunities of a connected world

Connected devices are gradually taking over our homes and workplaces. We can choose from a range of devices to help us live ‘better’ lives, from light switches to key finders, voice activated smart speakers like Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Home to doorbell cameras, health trackers to thermostats. With many IoT devices having poor to no security in place, they make appealing targets to attackers, and the risk is increased with each new device we connect. The more devices connected to a system, the more points there are for hackers to take advantage of. This presents a huge risk for the future because connected devices can help facilitate DDoS (distributed denial of service) attacks. This is where attackers use the combined power of multitudes of devices to effectively shut down sites so that they can hold them for ransom or distract IT teams while hackers attempt to steal data elsewhere. Any security specialist considering IoT solutions should be looking at a broader picture of how the tech is connected and to which systems, and more importantly, should be ensuring adequate protection is in place.

The future of computing

One of the most exciting technologies of the future lies in quantum computing. As with IoT, automation and biometrics, it begins with a technology that has huge positive potential in the world, but equally it brings with it a massive risk. While the reality of having our homes and businesses run on quantum computing is still years away, we are getting closer to this possibility, in fact in January 2019 IBM announced its first commercial quantum computer. Both the benefits and the risks connected with quantum computing come with its vastly increased speed compared to conventional systems. A quantum computer could detect patterns and attacks far faster, and predict how scenarios might play out so that it could shut down attacks before they go further. Turn this around though, and you’re looking at a computer that could be used by attackers to break encryption at a far greater rate, which could work faster to hack systems and which potentially would have little to no resistance against conventional systems.

Sharing the responsibility

Technology is growing and adapting at a rapid pace, and it’s up to security experts to understand this changing landscape and ensure the right protection is in place. However, the majority of cyber-attacks focus on individuals – from phishing emails to downloading malware. Which means that more than ever before cyber security is about building a strong and resilient workforce, rather than just relying on technology. With the right people, the right mind-set and an environment where people are encouraged to take responsibility, you can build a workforce that will be more able to resist attack and adapt to changing technology.

Read our related blog: The future of cyber security

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