6 Cybersecurity Predictions for 2017

6 Cybersecurity Predictions for 2017


From national threats to data loss and infrastructure attacks, Aon's cyber experts share the business cybersecurity threats likely to materialise this year.

Stroz Friedberg, the global risk management firm recently acquired by Aon, has released its 2017 Cybersecurity Predictions Report and predicts this year will usher in intensified cyber attacks, new regulations and a shift in how businesses approach cyber risk management. Top threats this year include nation state cyber espionage, a rise in data integrity attacks and an increase in attacks harnessing Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

With cybersecurity firmly entrenched as one of the most consequential issues impacting international security, politics, economic stability and transactional crime, an understanding of existing and emerging cyber risks is more relevant than ever before. Stroz Friedberg's predictions outline the top cybersecurity threats facing businesses and provide recommendations on how organisations can increase their resilience in the face of these threats.

The following predictions are highlighted in the report with local commentary from Aon's National Cyber Risk Practice Leader, Fergus Brooks, and Cyber Risk Profiling expert, Joerg Schmitz.

Criminals harness IoT devices as botnets to attack infrastructure: In 2017, Stroz Friedberg predicts there will be an increase in IoT devices compromised, harnessed as botnets, and used as launching points for malware propagation, SPAM, DDoS attacks and anonymising malicious activities.

Local view - The threat landscape for Australia's mining and utilities will bring some surprises this year: Australia's mining and utilities sectors have become hugely dependent on supply chain automation to improve profitability and increase efficiencies. This includes use of IoT technologies, such as driverless trucks. Bad actors will be testing these systems, probing for vulnerabilities. This extends to Industrial Control Systems like SCADA, where there have already been incidents in the Ukraine affecting power stations, and an attack on apartment block cooling systems in the UK.

Nation state cyber espionage and information war influences global and political policy: Cyber espionage will continue to influence global politics and will spread to the upcoming elections in Latin America and Europe. Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea will remain regions of great concern in 2017, as they continue to develop deep pools of cybercrime talent.

Local view - Australia is already in a highly defensive state when it comes to cyber espionage from commercial entities and nation states. The Australian Federal Government is highly aware of this threat and has taken actions to mitigate them. This includes increased funding for various initiatives including CERT Australia and the Australian Cyber Security Centre (ACSC). 2017 will see increased cooperation between the public and private sectors to address these threats.

Data integrity attacks rise: Data sabotage as the next big threat will become a reality in 2017. Criminals will seek to sow confusion and doubt over the accuracy and reliability of information, impairing decisionmaking across the private and public sector.

Local view - Potential consequences on organisations from loss or impact on data integrity have started to overtake the previous 'high scorers' of loss, deletion and leakage of data. This is evidence of Australian corporates, in particular ASX listed entities operating under the continuous disclosure obligation, awareness of global cyber events, and accepting that these are conceivable to occur in a similar fashion and with similar legal, financial and reputational impacts here as elsewhere in the world.

Spear-phishing and social engineering tactics become craftier, more targeted and more advanced: As organisations continue to leverage evolving technologies, including the cloud and IoT, and in parallel shore up perimeter defenses to raise the bar of network security, criminals will increase their focus on the human element as an entry point. In 2017, advanced social engineering tactics will become more targeted, cunning, and more effective, exploiting the weakest link employees that organisations always find challenging to safeguard.

Local view - Over 80% of cyber insurance claims in Australia have involved spearphishing and social engineering, predominately ransomware. This will continue, if not increase, as organisations are increasingly accepting that paying extortion is an option. The criminals are being paid so they will continue to develop new methods. This highlights poor backup practices so we will see an increase in implementation of more advanced backup systems as a risk mitigation exercise and other mitigation technologies.

Regulatory pressures make red teaming the global gold standard with cybersecurity talent development recognised as a key challenge: Increased pressure from regulators worldwide will push in-house red teaming capabilities to accelerate in 2017. In addition, companies that are not in the cyber business will face a different challenge: recruiting, motivating, and retaining highly technical cyber talent to keep their red teams at the forefront of cybersecurity. This push will likely first occur in financial hubs such as Hong Kong, Singapore, the EU, and even the U.S.

Local view - Some Australian organisations, especially in the banking and finance industry, have already built in-house red team capabilities. At this stage, there aren't regulatory pressures to push organisations into red teaming though it is considered industry best practice. The recently passed mandatory data breach notification law puts enhanced pressure on organisations to be prepared for cyber incidents and raise the importance of these kinds of techniques. The Australian Federal Government has also recognised the skills shortage and is dedicating resources to build out capabilities through working with schools and universities and a highly skilled workforce. Both the public and private sectors are fostering innovation in cyber security locally also.

Industry firstmovers embrace pre-M& A cybersecurity due diligence: The financial services industry and other regulated sectors will be earlyadopters of making cybersecurity due diligence a critical part of the pre-M& A due diligence process, learning from high profile transactions that were derailed in 2016, following the exposure of cyber vulnerabilities.

Local view - Private equity and venture capital firms in Australia have already started looking into the cyber risk management strategies of potential portfolio companies. In 2017, we will see this increase and also see mandates for industry standards compliance such as ISO 27001, incident response plans and also for cyber risk insurance. Australian government tenders will also start to ask how much cyber insurance respondents have.

The report also scores Stroz Friedberg's 2016 predictions, which correctly predicted events such as cyber threats influencing the U.S. presidential election and security incidents with IoT devices shifting dialogue from functionality to security.

To download the full report, click here.

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