New Year, New Security Challenges: What to Expect from 2017

by Raimund Genes

Trend Micro has been protecting organisations, governments and consumers for over two and a half decades now. Our 1,200-strong team of threat researchers work round the clock and around the globe to anticipate where the next major threats will come from, and, crucially, how to mitigate them. At this time of year we’re always asked for our predictions for the next 12 months. And while cybercriminals are unlikely to work to annual deadlines, it’s still a good time to take stock and share our insight into what our experts think 2017 holds in store.

As the bad guys get ever more determined and resourceful, it will take a solid multi-layered approach to security combined with strong people and processes to keep UK organisations safe and compliant as we head into the new year.

New and old
As always with the threat landscape, we’re more likely to see an evolution of current trends than any major new paradigm shifts. For that reason, Internet of Things-based botnets will continue to cause DDoS havoc, especially against service-oriented, news, corporate and political sites. Likewise, 2017 will see an uptick in Business Email Compromise (BEC) scams in which finance staff are tricked into transferring huge sums into third party bank accounts. When one realises the average successful BEC attack nets $140,000, versus $722 for the average ransomware raid, it’s not hard to see why.

That’s not to say we’ve seen the end of ransomware. Far from it. Although 2016 was the tipping point, we expect next year will see a 25% increase in newly discovered ransomware families, as cybercriminals look to broaden their efforts to include POS, ATMs and industrial systems. And ransomware will increasingly become a component of data stealing cyber attacks, as hackers attempt to double their profits.

We also saw the emergence of Business Process Compromise (BPC) in 2016 – most notably with the audacious $81m cyber robbery of Bangladesh Bank. This new category of attacks requires a detailed knowledge of the target organisation’s business processes. Hackers infiltrate the victim and add, modify, or delete entries or intercept and modify transactions with the end goal of effecting an unauthorised payment to a bank account controlled by them. It’s going to take much better situational awareness of what’s going on inside the network to mitigate this threat.

Finally, a word or two on the emergence of cyber-propaganda. It’s not an enterprise security threat per se, but a dangerous trend which has the power to sway elections and shape the public opinion of those can’t or don’t want to distinguish between fact and fiction online. Social media will continue to be abused into 2017 and it remains to be seen whether withdrawal of advertising from sites publishing fake stories will have any effect. With some important European elections coming up, we all hope so.

No silver bullet
All this and much more is explained in detail in our year-end report, The Next Tier. But as cybercriminals continue to adapt their tools and techniques to evade the white hats, how can CIOs and CISOs fight back?

There is no silver bullet to modern threats. More than ever it’s vital to combine multiple technologies in a multi-layered approach. This should include:

  • advanced anti-malware
  • anti-spam and anti-phishing at web/email gateways
  • web reputation
  • breach detection systems
  • application control
  • content filtering
  • vulnerability shielding
  • mobile app reputation
  • host- and network-based intrusion prevention
  • host-based firewall protection

This isn’t an exhaustive list, and you’ll need to add behaviour and integrity monitoring; advanced sandboxing; and machine learning to help spot the most determined zero day threats. We also can’t underestimate the importance of well thought-out, dynamic user awareness and training programs – especially given the increasingly sophisticated social engineering techniques used by cybercriminals. Also, expect a rise in expenses associated with GDPR compliance as the 2018 enforcement deadline approaches.

There’ll certainly be plenty to keep us all busy as we head into 2017.


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