We take a look at 5 cyber security or privacy related issues we’ll be seeing plenty of coverage of during 2017. If 2016 was anything to go by, these things are going to be hot topics next year. Consider yourself warned!
The Internet of Things… going wrong
Long gone are the days where it was only your PC or laptop that could get compromised by cyber-criminals. The average household now has at least several “smart” devices connected to the ever expanding ‘Internet of Things’, and as such, they’re all vulnerable to attack.
TVs, cars, radios, mobile phones, children’s toys, indoor lighting and heating. The number of things people have connected to the Internet is quickly growing.
A problem that became apparent during 2016 is that these devices are not developed by security professionals, and as such security often takes a backseat to functionality. This allows criminals to easily compromise these devices, and in turn compromise both our security and privacy.
For example, early in 2016, Fisher Price found themselves rushing to fix a privacy flaw in their Smart Toy Bear, that could have potentially allowed criminals to control the device, obtain personal information from it and even potentially listen in to a child’s conversations with the toy.
And let’s not forget the controversy featuring Samsung smart TV’s that could potentially listen to personal conversations and transmit them to third parties via the voice activation feature. And then there were the security experts that revealed they could “hack” a smart car and take control of it.
Luckily in all these examples, security experts managed to proactively prevent any major catastrophes by identifying the problems early on. But with more and more devices connecting to cyberspace via the term we call “The Internet of Things”, it’s only a matter of time before something goes seriously awry.
Ransomware… big business
New strains and adaptations of existing strains of ransomware are hitting the wild every week, and the total amount of money netted by ransomware distributors each year would put the economies of many countries to shame.
We’ve already talked about how ransomware has become such a massive venture that distributors are even tackling issues like customer satisfaction and providing customer service. This means these criminals – like anyone involved in business – are thinking about long-term growth.
As such, we can expect ransomware infections to continue to grow throughout 2017, with more malicious emails trying to lure you into opening dangerous attachments and watch out for criminals looking for more creative ways to infect your computer. Also expect more sophisticated strains of ransomware offering even more “features” that you’d normally expect to see in software you purchased legitimately!
So make sure you know what ransomware is and how to avoid it through our article here.
Fake news eroding trust in the Internet
2016 was dominated by the US presidential election, which in turn bought the ever increasing problem of fake news to the forefront. While companies like Google and Facebook have vowed to tackle the surge of fake or misleading news, it’s still a problem with no real clear solution.
The number of sites that routinely public fake news, or “fauxtire” news (fake news posing as entertainment or satire) as grown dramatically over the last couple of years, and many stories have received tens of millions of views and even fooled politicians, celebrities and organisations.
As such, trust in the Internet has eroded and will likely continue to do so as we enter 2017.
More massive data breaches
2016 was not a good year for many big companies who suffered a number of massive data breaches that saw customer login information and passwords leaked on the Internet.
Companies like Tesco Bank, Verizon, MySpace and LinkedIn all suffered data leaks in 2016, and the biggest data breach ever, affecting Yahoo with over 1 billion of compromised accounts, was also revealed in 2016, although it actually occurred in 2013.
So even though you may follow sound security advice, your personal information is still vulnerable when big companies get compromised by cyber criminals. We can expect to see more breaches and revelations as we enter 2017, meaning it’s important that you keep tabs on whether any of your accounts could have been compromised too – and remember, if you use the same password on more than one account (hint: you shouldn’t) then if an online account you use does get compromised by a data breach, you need to change that password at every other place you use it too.
In 2016, the UK passed what is dubbed the “Snoopers Charter”, forcing Internet Service Providers and mobile phone companies to keep a record of Internet browsing history in the UK for 12 months, where it could potentially be analysed by dozens of different public authorities.
Government sponsored surveillance has been a popular topic covered by the media since the Edward Snowden NSA leaks in 2013, and with governments and software companies continuing to come to blows over subjects like encryption, this is something we’ll be hearing plenty of in 2017.