Business 2 Community recently looked at expert predictions for cyber threats in 2015 to determine if they actually came true. Primarily, the post referenced an infographic created by Symantec that summarized the 10 most popular cyber security issues for the year.
By looking at these predictions, the marketing blog concluded that because so many were accurate, it’s hard to say which technologies, if any, are exempt from cyberattacks.
“Cyber security is a very fluid environment,” the post explained. “Web hackers are always looking for new ways to compromise our personal data, computer systems and networks.”
Even if the outlook is pessimistic, it’s important to know how 2015 presented new identity theft risks for web users and what that means for the future of cyber security. Here is part one of those predictions:
Faltering security for the Internet of Things
Last year was all about smart home technology, and experts predicted that devices connected through the Internet of Things would be exploited by cybercriminals. They were not wrong. Because this technology is still relatively new, especially in widespread application, security isn’t exactly where it should be. Experts from the InfoSec Institute found that devices used in our homes, like alarms and lights, that are now connected to the internet pose one of the greatest security threats, since they collect so much personal information about their users. Hackers can access details from your behavior and personal preferences to information like address and phone number. In some instances, temperature control systems have been hacked and caused billing fraud and blackouts for its users.
Attacks on mobile devices
In the past few years, we’ve become increasingly dependent on our mobile devices. They’re no longer just for basic interactions, like calling and texting, and perform a range of functions, including paying for things. Because mobile device security has often been overlooked, users’ personal and banking information has become vulnerable to attack. In one notable incident, Samsung’s mobile payment service “LoopPay” was hacked, outraging users and causing fear of a huge data leak. Luckily, Samsung was able to stop the hackers from accessing much information.
Another concern with mobile devices is the amount of data collected by applications. Last year, Symantec predicted that users would continue to sacrifice their privacy to use certain mobile apps, allowing access to location, photos, contact lists, fitness information, etc. While many see these details as innocuous, the worry is that they could become dangerous. Business 2 Community pointed out that South Korea was forced to pull a child monitoring application called Smart Sheriff due to privacy concerns.
The rise of ransomware
Symantec had an accurate prediction when it foresaw a continued increase for ransomware attacks in 2015. After reporting a 500 percent increase in 2013, the technology company felt confident that following years would see even more. Last year, a program called CryptoWall was able to hack computers through fraudulent emails or downloads then encrypt files on users’ computers, like Word documents or PDF files, asking for a ransom to decrypt them.
In fact, Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles, California recently experienced this. The hospital was held hostage by crypto-ransomware for 10 days, before it was forced to pay a ransom of 40 bitcoins to regain access to patient records. That is the equivalent of $17,000.
Heightened cyber security awareness
In a more hopeful prediction, Symantec saw 2015 learning from the mistakes of prior years to raise awareness on the issues of cyber security. Clearly, this past year saw more people taking notice of these problems and wanting to do something about it. In response to these concerns, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act was passed, the goal of which was to improve online security by having technology companies share information about different cyber threats with the U S. Government.
Tracking to take over passwords
Passwords continue to be a weakness constantly exploited by hackers. Few people know how to create strong passwords for their accounts or, worrying that complicated passwords will be forgotten, choose not to. One way devices tried to work around these issues was by implementing facial recognition software, like fingerprint scanners on iPhones, to allow access to users in a supposedly more secure way. However, issues with that technology were quickly revealed, so experts predicted that in 2015 more companies would apply user behavior authentication, using certain algorithms. They were correct, as companies like Wells Fargo began analyzing the characteristics and behaviors of their users, such as how they walk or hold their phone, and using that information as identification. Since these details are nearly impossible to replicate, this technology could eventually replace user created passwords in the future of security.
Security issues with the cloud
Cloud computing has seen a significant rise in usage in recent years as well. Beta News reported that cloud application adoption by businesses grew 71 percent in the last year. That kind of unlimited access to data is exciting for companies, but with that excitement comes unsurprising questions of security. Business 2 Community explained that as this adoption rate continues to grow, cloud services will need to continue to bolster their security. Already, though, 2015 presented the emergence of third party cloud security providers that help companies supplement their protection.
Despite how many precaution you take, data breaches and scams can easily make you susceptible to identity theft. That’s why having an identity theft protection service, like Identity Guard, can help — by monitoring your credit file, Social Security Number and public records so you can be alerted to certain activity that may indicate fraud. We can't account for everything, but Identity Guard can help you feel better protected.