2014 saw an explosion of concern about cybersecurity, as more and more of life moves online - especially financial life. When big companies and even government agencies were hacked and millions of people’s details were leaked, we all sat up and took notice. But what form will the dangers of cyberspace take in the year ahead?
Cybersecurity is a major mainstream issue. Hacking experts warn that 2014 was the beginning of a new arms race between legitimate web users, companies and even governments, and ever-more-sophisticated hackers on the other. 2015 will see traditional cybercrime like internet password fraud continue, but there will also be brand new threats to accompany new technology.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
The Internet of Things is the name given to the web of communicating smart devices that will increasingly predominate in our homes and workplaces. When the toaster talks to the fridge and the doorbell communicates with the garage door, that’s great - but it’s great for hackers, too. John Nesbitt is the founder of Cyber Senate, a council of the world’s cybersecurity business leaders. His group believes that ‘the IoT presents unique security challenges in terms of the number of connected devices present,’ and that makes it ‘the main cybersecurity risk for 2015.’
In fact, it’s possible that many of the Things in the IoT have already been hacked - or come ‘pre-hacked’ with spychips. In any case, they’re far from secure: ‘we have sacrificed security for efficiency,’ concludes Mr. Nesbitt.
Governments, non-governmental organizations and other groups are already busily engaged in cyber espionage, including data gathering as well as hacking and other activities. Non-governmental political groups are already players in this game - witness the Syrian Electronic Army’s antics in 2014.
McAffee’s ‘2015 Threat Predictions’ document warns that cyber-espionage attacks are likely to increase in frequency in 2015 and that ‘newcomers will look for ways to steal money and disrupt their adversaries,’ while the information-gathering behind the scenes will become more sophisticated.
It’s almost certain that cyber theft will rise in 2015, for two interconnected reasons. One is that more people will do more business online. The other is that an increasing proportion of those will be relative novices who lack good cyber-security habits and knowledge.
Some of the risk is out of consumers’ hands, too. In many cases, ‘the payment technology used won’t protect against retailers who aren’t storing payment card data securely, and they will still need to be vigilant in protecting stored data,’ says Symantec Security’s Candid Wüest.