Everybody looks forward to the new year. Naturally “everybody” includes the bad guys who never stop trying to find new ways to compromise the nation’s critical infrastructure and the Internet of Things (IoT). If you’re not familiar with IoT, it’s a term that was coined to describe objects (smart cars and smart houses) or even people (Smart people? Anyway, people with tracking or medical chips implanted under the skin) that can be managed, altered and monitored remotely by computer.
Inventory on store shelves, appliances of all kinds, water and power utilities — all are connected online and can be targets of bad guys of every kind and variety. To stop these cybercriminals, terrorists and old-fashioned mischief-making hackers, in the past year alone, venture capital funding has poured $1.4 billion into 239 cybersecurity deals.
“The Internet of Things is coming on faster than we can cope with – soon enough, we will be living in smart houses and all of our critical infrastructure will be managed online,” said Andreas Baumhof, chief technology officer, ThreatMetrix. “This extensive interconnectivity poses a severe risk for cybercriminals to have a detrimental impact on such critical utilities as our nation’s water supply in 2014 and beyond.”
Now ThreatMetrix predicts the top cybercrime trends and consumers should look out for in 2014:
• The Internet of Things will lead to all appliances and operations eventually connecting to the Internet. While still in early stages, as soon as next year, smart refrigerators, locks and thermostats will move into the mainstream. As with any online activity, the Internet of Things offers cybercriminals the opportunity to compromise this connectivity and steal personal information or cripple resources.
• Critical infrastructure risks have recently become so severe that President Obama signed an Executive Order on Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity. Water, power and other critical utilities are gradually moving online and this opens the door for cybercriminals – either individuals or nation-states to wage a new form of warfare. Critical infrastructure already faces cyberattacks daily – and this is certain to increase in 2014.
• Data privacy is and will continue to be a significant concern both for individuals and businesses, especially given the recent revelation that the National Security Administration’s Prism program spied on data from several top technology companies. Because of this, trust in the privacy and security of personal information online has taken a major hit.
• Alternative payments are being used more and more, especially with the massive growth of bitcoins, Facebook credits, gift cards and more. In 2014 and beyond, more forms of alternative payments are sure to emerge and unregulated payments are at risk for malware and money laundering.
• Mobile transactions are gaining market share and are expected to grow by 40 percent to $325 billion in 2014. Since mobile is an emerging marketplace, the good and bad actors are on a level playing field. Businesses are still figuring out the best ways to protect mobile devices and transactions while cybercriminals are in the early stages of determining strategies to compromise mobile transactions.
• Online transactions will continue to be targeted and in 2014 attacks will become more widespread as sophisticated malware that was previously developed for attacking high security banking sites will be used to attack online businesses across industries – many of which are not as well prepared to prevent cybercrime as online banks.
“Current and emerging cybercrime threats will continue to compromise businesses and consumers on a global level in 2014,” said Baumhof. “To address and prevent these threats, continued innovation in the security market is crucial. Simple anti-virus companies and addressing fraud and security separately is no longer effective given today’s sophisticated cybercriminals. Rather, businesses must collaborate through a global network for a collective response to cybercrime.”