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Check Point Releases Cyber-Security Predictions for 2017

October 2016 by Check Point

Check Point® Software Technologies Ltd. announced its five key security predictions for 2017.

Based on data from the company’s latest Security Report, which analyzed thousands of security checkups and gateways globally, the predictions cover consumer-driven trends including mobile and the IoT, as well as corporate-specific areas like critical infrastructure and cloud security.

Trend 1: Mobile

With smartphone usage up 394% and tablet usage up an enormous 1700% over the past four years, it is no surprise that attacks on mobile devices are continuing to grow. According to Check Point’s 2016 Security Report, one in five corporate employees will be the cause of a company data breach through mobile malware or malicious WiFi – both highly effective attack vectors on mobile devices.

As this trend continues, Check Point expects to see enterprise breaches that originate on mobile devices becoming a more significant corporate security concern. The recent nation-state sponsored attacks on journalists’ mobile phones means that these attacks methods are now out in the wild and we should expect to see organized criminal gangs use them. However, mobile security remains a challenge for enterprises – a push-pull between productivity, privacy and protection.

Trend 2: The Internet of Things (IoT)

Updating and patching IoT enabled devices can be challenging, particularly if the manufacturers of these devices do not have a specialist security focus. In the coming year organizations can expect to see cyberattacks spreading to industrial IoT, perhaps via devices such as printers.

In the coming year, we expect to see cyberattacks spreading into the Industrial IoT. The convergence of informational technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) is making both environments more vulnerable, particularly the operational technology or SCADA environments. These environments often run legacy systems for which patches are either not available, or worse, simply not used. Manufacturing, as an industry, will need to extend both systems and physical security controls to the logical space and implement threat prevention solutions across both IT and OT environments.

Trend 3: Critical Infrastructure

Critical infrastructure, which includes major energy, utilities and telecommunications companies, is highly vulnerable to cyberattack. Nearly all critical infrastructures were designed and built before cyberattacks were a major threat, and as such even basic principles of information security are not embedded in their design. In early 2016, the first blackout caused intentionally by a cyberattack was reported. Security planners in critical infrastructure need to plan for the possibility that their networks and systems will see attack methods consistent with multiple potential threat actors: nation-state, terrorism and organized crime.

Trend 4: Threat Prevention

The Check Point’s 2016 Security Report revealed a nine-fold increase in the volumes of unknown malware attacking organizations, with nearly 12 million new malware variants being identified every month. Ransomware is becoming particularly prevalent, and it will become as much of a problem as DDoS attacks in 2017.

Given ransomware’s effectiveness, enterprises will have to employ a multi-faceted prevention strategy, including advanced sandboxing and threat extraction, in order to effectively protect their networks. They will also need to consider alternative ways to cope with ransomware campaigns. Such methods would include coordinated take-downs with industry peers and law enforcement, as well as the establishment of financial reserves to speed payments, if that is the only mitigation option.

It is also likely that there will be an increase in targeted attacks to influence or silence organizations, with ‘legitimate’ actors launching such attacks. The current U.S. Presidential campaign and interference from other nation-states demonstrates this possibility and will serve as a precedent for future campaigns.

Trend 5: Cloud

As enterprises continue to put more data in the cloud and utilize hybrid network infrastructures, including software-defined networking, they will create additional backdoors for hackers to access other enterprise systems. Additionally, any attack to disrupt or take down a major cloud provider could affect all of their customers’ businesses. While generally disruptive, such an attack would most likely be used as a means to impact a specific competitor or organization, who would be one of many affected, making it difficult to determine, or prove motive.

There will also be a rise in ransomware attacks impacting cloud-based datacenters. As more organizations embrace the cloud, both public and private, these types of attacks will start targeting these emerging infrastructures, through either encrypted files spreading cloud to cloud or by hackers using the cloud as a volume multiplier.

Darrel Burkey, Director, IPS Products, Product Management at Check Point said: “Data from our latest Security Report presents a complex and, in some respects, alarming picture for information security in 2017. As far as mobile, cloud and IoT are concerned, we passed the tipping point a long time ago – these technologies are an integral part of doing business, and cybercriminals have adapted their techniques accordingly.”

“Malicious hackers have also become smarter when it comes to malware and ransomware, releasing new variants on a minute by minute basis. The days of signature-based antivirus being enough to screen out malware are long gone.”

“Using these predictions, organizations can develop their cybersecurity plans to keep them one step ahead of emerging cyber-threats - preventing attacks before they can inflict damage.”

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