10 with A10: 10 Cyber Security Predictions for 2017

A10 Networks Blog

The cyber landscape changes dramatically year after year. If you blink, you may miss something; whether that’s a noteworthy hack, a new attack vector or new solutions to protect your business. Sound cyber security means trying to stay one step ahead of threat actors.

In the spirit of looking toward the future, I grabbed my crystal ball and took my best guess at what will be the big cyber security storylines in 2017.

I hope I’m wrong. But looking at the way trends are playing out and conversations I have in the security community, the ominous likelihood below would not surprise me.

1. IoT threats lead to the rise of the DoT (DDoS of Things).

In late 2016, all eyes were on IoT-borne attacks. Threat actors were using Internet of Things devices to build botnets to launch massive distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. As threats intensified, this led to the dawn of the Botnet of Things (BoT), the botnets that comprise IoT devices to carry out such attacks.

In 2017, we’ll see the emergence of the DDoS of Things (DoT) as the attack method. By abstracting the devices and the malware they create, we dig into the root of the problem: the outcome, which, in this case, is a colossal DDoS attack.

As the DoT continues to reach critical mass, device manufactures must change their behavior to help curb it. They must scrap default passwords and either assign unique credentials to each device or apply modern password configuration techniques for the end user during setup.

2. Upstream providers become targets.

The DDoS attack launched against DNS provider Dyn, which resulted in knocking out many major sites that use Dyn for DNS services, made headlines because it highlighted what can happen when threat actors target a service provider as opposed to just the end customers.

Attacks on upstream providers cause ripple effects that interrupt service — not only for the provider, but all of their customers and users. The attack on Dyn set a dangerous precedent and will likely be emulated several times over in the coming year.

3. Point solutions still don’t do the job.

The days of Frankensteining together a set of security solutions has to stop. Instead of buying a single solution for each issue, businesses must trust security solutions from best-of-breed vendors and partnerships that answer a number of security needs. Why have 12 solutions when you can have three? In 2017, if you’re doing your security due diligence, your security footprint will need to get smaller, yet will be much more powerful.

4. DDoS attacks get even bigger.

We recently saw some of the largest DDoS attacks on record, in some instances topping 1 Tbps. That’s absolutely massive, and it shows no sign of slowing. Through 2015, the largest attacks on record were in the 65 Gbps range.

The DDoS Pandora’s Box is already open. The release of the malware source code, Mirai malware, that unleashed one of the most powerful botnets ever is a sure sign that things will get worse before they get better.

Going into 2017, we can expect to see DDoS attacks grow in size, further fueling the need for solutions tailored to protect against and mitigate these colossal attacks.

5. Predictive analytics gains ground.

Math, machine learning and artificial intelligence will be baked more into security solutions. Security solutions will learn from the past, and essentially predict attack vectors and behavior based on that historical data. This means security solutions will be able to more accurately and intelligently identify and predict attacks by using event data and marrying it to real-world attacks.

Increased usage of predictive analytics will usher in the use of other imperative data in 2017. Look for organizations to dig deeper into insider threats and user behavior analytics next year, and it’s about time.

6. Attack attempts on industrial control systems.

Similar to the IoT attacks and the DoT, it’s only due time until we see major industrial control system (ICS) attacks. A lack of continuity regarding infrastructure security can make these critical systems, such as water treatment facilities, dams and electrical grids, more attractive targets to threat actors. In 2017, it’s not far-fetched to expect real attack on national infrastructure somewhere in the world.

7.  BYOD obliterates the perimeter.

With all of the new devices coming on line and being used by nearly every person on the planet, BYOD (bring your own device) is no longer a privilege, but an assumed right. It has become a basic human function to take your personal device to work, or anywhere else for that matter. In many industries, this personal standard has existed for years. The continued proliferation of devices and the associated attacks will confound CSOs and help threat actors propagate their malicious activity at greater scale.

8. Automobiles become a target.

With autonomous vehicles on the way and the massive success of sophisticated electric cars, the automobile industry will become a much more attractive target for attackers. Heck, this year we saw a self-driving 18-wheeler make the first automated beer run. Taking control of an automobile isn’t fantasy, and it could be a real threat next year (and the idea of someone targeting a beer-transporting big rig is downright terrifying).

9. All hail extortionware.

Ransomware was one of the fastest growing online threats in 2016, and in 2017 that will give way to more sophisticated types of extortion that add social engineering to the mix.

In late 2016, we saw the first signs of this evolution with the first instances of extortionware in practice. Attackers have started offering their victims the option of sending the ransomware link to friends and colleagues in lieu of paying to free their files and data.

In 2017, this trend will continue, and it has the potential to spread these type of attacks much faster and empower threat actors to cast a much wider net.

Ransomware as we know it will evolve in 2017. Extortionware will take over.

10. As security support demands become 24/7, outsourcing reaches mainstream.

The days of security teams working 9-to-5 are long gone. Now is the dawn of the 24/7 security team. As more security solutions become services-based, consumers and businesses will demand security support teams and their vendors be available around the clock.

While monitoring tools do some of the work, threats don’t stop just because it’s midnight, and security teams need to be ready to do battle all day, every day.

The need for around-the-clock protection will lead to more mainstream adoption of outsourced security support and services in 2017. Companies will realize they can’t do it all themselves, and require the expertise of cyber security pros. I look at it like this: if your business makes candy, keep making candy. Let someone else handle your security.

Those are 10 things we see happening in the cyber security space next year. What do you think? Any big security trends you expect to see in 2017? Let us know in the comments.


A10 Staff
December 19, 2016

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