As the year 2016 closed out, we saw a lot of emerging issues we hadn’t really considered up to this point. From determining whether or not law enforcement has the right to unlock a citizen’s phone, even if it is an investigation of an alleged terrorist, to having devices in your home recording everything you say, like Amazon’s Echo, the line between public safety and personal privacy is becoming more blurred each day.
Then we have the controversial election cycle bringing such questions to light such as should the President be as active on social media as President-Elect Trump? How much did Russia affect the outcome of the election, and do we have another election? As these issues and more emerge, we can see several problems emerging on the horizon to look out for as the new year begins.
International Cyber Crime
While society as a whole has suspected that nuclear arms will likely be the weapon of choice for World War III, and they may still pose a significant presence, it’s becoming increasingly apparent that international cyber crime will take center stage. With the recent report that Russia was involved with hacking to influence the American election, it is clear that Russia has stepped up their hacking in recent years. Couple this with China’s known cyber attacks and hacktivists groups like Anonymous, and it’s clear that a strong line of defense made up of ethical hackers needs to be in everyone’s back pockets.
Government groups will always be the low hanging fruit. It seems as if each and every year some publication publishes a disparaging piece about how antiquated the U.S. armed forces’ computing systems are. And yet, each year, millions of dollars are poured in everywhere seemingly but their computer systems. They will remain an easy target, but these international hackers are increasingly targeting large corporations as well. It isn’t enough for big business to have secured servers and firewalls; we’re probably going to see dedicated militarized white hat teams in corporations soon.
As computers are increasingly used to harm others, be it private citizens, celebrities, corporations, or government agencies, computing systems will more than likely come under increased scrutiny. While the average personal computer probably won’t be affected, Internet use, monitoring, and ISP scrutiny will likely be a target by lawmakers.
For the average person, increased regulations probably won’t have a significant impact on daily Internet use. However, with legislation come fees, fines, and taxes. It isn’t too far-fetched to see an increase in average costs for Internet use, as well as having a more looming ISP tracking and reporting more consumer use activities.
As is the case with gun legislation, lawmakers may try to target specific hacking “tools” to curb cyber crime activities. As is the case with banning the use of certain gun accessories, this will likely be used as nothing more than a political football, doing little else than hindering some aspects of IT duties. Considering potential cutbacks from increased Internet costs, this will likely make a lot more headaches for professionals.
More Integration and Weak Spots
Amazon’s Echo and other similar devices are bringing the elusive, smart house ever closer to becoming a reality for more homes. While this means streamlined daily tasks and more convenience in obtaining daily news updates and accessing personal media files, as is always the case, there will be an increase in IoT weak spots.
Law enforcement is already trying to obtain the daily recordings of residents taken by Echo. While Amazon denies their request for access to these files, it is only a matter of time before they are forced to give this up. Whether it be via a legally obtained warrant or by being strong-armed by other agencies, smart homes are bringing more questions regarding ethics than convenience.
There are many cheaply made Wi-Fi integrated components to turn a dumb home into a faux smart home. However, these are becoming inherently risky as they don’t have nearly strong enough encryption to hold off hackers. Even novice hackers will be able to unlock some brands of digital door locks, security cameras, smart TVs, and other connected devices. This will no doubt be the new “breaking and entering,” except instead of losing a stereo people will lose their privacy and potentially their identity.
Touching on both international hacking, from foreign governments and groups and hackings against residences, ransomware is continuing to be a weapon of choice for more, “black hats.” It makes sense; they only have to take over a device that they know you’ll pay for, and if you don’t have the money they destroy the hard drive. Much as cartel members do the same with people, it’s simple, quick, and efficient, as well as difficult to track down.
Ransomware will more than likely take off, potentially for smaller sums of money for smaller devices. Smart TVs, for instance, will probably be taken control of and either released or destroyed depending on how willing the homeowner is to obtain control back.
Increasing Shift to Cloud Storage
As more industries are taking steps to reducing hard storage for files, a continued shift to all digital and cloud storage is expected. This is particularly the case with cross-platform and international collaboration as more organizations need fast and efficient file sharing processes, either in-house or third party. And as is usually the case with many technologies, cloud computing will likely become more available among private groups, education facilities, healthcare facilities, and for recreation.
Unfortunately, crime follows the crowds, and as more users take to the cloud, so will cyber criminals. We can expect to see new attacks directed at cloud storage options rather than individuals as more files, from movies to video games to corporate secrets, are passed through cloud servers internationally. It wouldn’t be much of a surprise to see entire teams dedicated to forming counter defenses for cloud storage, much as security guards protect safes and vaults. IT jobs just may stay relevant after all.
Author Bio: Sachin Gupta, marketing for https://www.code-brew.com/, has a lot of experience in building his own start ups from the ground and handling marketing needs for top notch start ups and enterprises.