Well that just happened.
From Trump to Brexit and well beyond, 2016 delivered enough shocks, twists and turns to inspire Merriam-Webster to name “surreal” its “Word of the Year.”
Among other things, it was a time of far too many high-profile cyber-attacks, new debates about privacy vs. national security, and fresh concerns over the unnerving role social media plays in shaping public opinion.
Through it all, one thing became abundantly clear: We now live in a digital era when information is power—and where fraud can quite literally upend the world order.
A Snapshot of What to Expect in 2017:
- More of the Same, Only Worse
According to analysis from Cybersecurity Ventures, the cost of cybercrime could top $6 trillion by 2021—up over 100% from 2015. In the year ahead, every industry will be vulnerable, including energy, utilities, education and manufacturing, which will all come under direct attack.
- AI Sparks a New Surge in Cybercrime
With over 5 billion user data files compromised since 2013, it’s easier than ever to gain access to PII information. This will accelerate into 2017 as organized crime gangs use sophisticated digital tools such as artificial intelligence to automate their attacks.
- Security Trumps Privacy?
If recent tribulations for Apple, vTech and LinkedIn are any indication, a growing number of companies will find themselves weighing customer privacy with new demands to cooperate with government investigators and regulators in countries around the globe.
- A Migration From Email?
With email hacking scandals dogging so many, expect less use of email—and serious growth in secure messaging apps. Meanwhile, new forms of shared intelligence will enable digital companies to fight fraud even while reducing user friction, potentially mitigating a mass messaging migration.
- Bankers Beware: A Major Cyber-Attack is Coming Your Way
Last year’s $81 million heist at the Bank of Bangladesh was just a warm-up act. 2017 will likely see a major fraud attack on a big-name lender, possibly powered by automated bot activity, which has grown significantly in recent months.
- Cross-Border Fraud Explodes
With 1 in 5 transactions now crossing national boundaries, cross-border fraud will make up 25% of the total in 2017. Hit hard: Media and gaming companies with international customers—easy targets for fraudsters armed with location-spoofing and bot technologies.
- The Rise of Identity Farms
In 2017, look for crooks to flesh out the stolen identities they obtain on the Dark Web, instead of immediately using them to score a quick profit. New attacks will focus on gathering more information to beef up these identities, rather than immediate monetization.
- Static User Data: Useless
In light of rampant data breaches, the static elements of one’s identity will no longer be trusted. Dynamic information around one’s digital identity will be crucial to differentiate good customers from bad. Loyalties will depend on how these consumers are treated across locations, channels, and devices.
- Analytics Make All the Difference
Look for access to shared global threat data and advanced analytics technologies to use it well take center stage in 2017. The goal of many adopters: robust fraud prevention within a seamless, friction-free user experience.
- The Threat Within Grows
As if worldwide networks of cybercriminals weren’t bad enough, organizations will find they need to be vigilant against a more alarming threat: Insiders. Just ask Wells Fargo.
- Mid-Size Companies Become the New Battleground
With larger enterprises hardening their digital defenses, fraudsters will train their sights on mid-size corporations Another likely target: Larger companies that may be struggling (including ones that aren’t named Yahoo).
- ‘Following the Money’ Means Mobile
2017 may be the last year transacting via mobile is more secure than the desktop. With 43% of transactions now made via mobile devices—a 50% increase from last year—organizations will race to prevent fraud across all their users’ devices.
- ‘Computational Propaganda’ Hits the Private Sector
All the fake news and deceptive social media practices that fueled mass heartburn in 2016 will metastasize into attacks on private sector companies. The impact on brand perceptions and profitability will be harrowing as counter-efforts prove fruitless in a post-fact era.
- Social Engineering Comes of Age
Manipulating people into performing risky actions or divulging sensitive information is widely seen as the weakest link in the security chain. The ability to create AI-based avatars to fool people online will make it all so much worse.
- Trending: IoT & AI Systems as Attack Vectors
This increased use of chatbots and the growth of voice-enabled applications will be exploited big time. According to security expert Brian Krebs, companies offering customer support via chatbots will find fraudsters using AI to hijack them to manipulate customers.
- Enter: The ‘Cybercrime Franchise-in-a-Box’
Now, even thieves without technical skills can profit from ransomware or audio/video eavesdropping. In 2017, cybercriminals will discover selling the tools to commit crimes is just as lucrative as crime itself, as the DIY craze comes to aspiring thugs everywhere.
- Trust Becomes the World’s Most Valuable Currency
Identity data will overtake credit card data as the primary target for cybercriminals. In response, companies will deploy new digital identity solutions that establish the trust level of each user across all data, devices, locations, and behavior—cross-referenced in real time against worldwide threat intelligence.
Let’s take that last prediction as a sign that this is the year business starts fighting back. With any luck, it’ll be enough to lead to another unexpected “Word of the Year” for 2017: Namely, hope.