Happy Cyber New Year: The Top 5 Trends in Cybersecurity in 2016


It has become a cliché. Pundits and cybersecurity analysts, time and time again, talk about how a top cybersecurity trend for the New Year will be more cybersecurity attacks. I want to provide a different approach on what we can expect from a cybersecurity standpoint in 2016 with my personal top five list:

IoT Growth:

It seems like every year analysts warn about the Internet of Things (IoT) being the next big thing. It appears as though instead of a large splash, IoT is simply quietly growing more and more each year.

The reason why this growth is silent and potentially cybersecurity-related is due primarily by how seemingly innocuous this technology appears. IoT technically refers to small networkable operational technologies like “smart” traffic lights that detect traffic patterns and adjust accordingly, or networkable home appliances that can turn on via mobile devices. However, unlike many peers, I consider “Wearables” IoT devices as well. I also believe these less secure devices may be the first IoT to be hacked successfully in the near future.

Wearables are items like fitness trackers that you can wear on your wrist. According to some sources, there will be an estimated 780 million wearable devices by 2019. The math will work out to about one wearable device on every 10 people. The security challenge with wearables comes from the inherently poor-written code that often creates a back door to the smartphone.

Consumer Operational Technology (OT):

Along the lines of security issues with IoT, OT like manufacturing devices, utility valves, or Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) will continue to represent cybersecurity challenges in 2016.

One consumer-oriented OT that may top the list is the “connected car.” According to the same report mentioned above, attacks on automobile systems may increase rapidly in 2016 due to the major increase in connected automobile hardware built without “foundational security principles.”

Payment Paradox:

Attacks on payment card data businesses were bad in 2014 and 2015. This trend may continue as mobile payment systems continue to advance. Despite recent efforts by the Europay, MasterCard, and Visa (EMV) chip, which the United States recently adopted in 2015, the proliferation of mobile payment systems may produce negative results on the cybersecurity front.

Biometrics Bonanza

The year 2015 was a huge one for biometric technology. Apple kicked-off the year with a stronger focus on fingerprint authentication in their new iPhones, and apps quickly followed. Now consumers can access their banking accounts via mobile apps using silicon-chip, finger sensors.

This trend may take off more in 2016 as entertainment consoles like Microsoft’s Xbox One double down on facial recognition. From a cybersecurity perspective, however, it’s important to note that this technology is about verification more than authentication. Additionally, it’s important to note that physical characteristics complement passwords but should not yet fully replace the need.

Machine learning

Machine learning, a subset of artificial intelligence that gives computers the ability to learn without being explicitly programmed, is a growing practice that will continue in 2016.

For cybersecurity, this boils down to a highly advanced analysis engine that can make it extremely difficult for hackers to bypass detection. We’re not there yet, but I think by next year’s end, we’ll be a lot closer.

Putting It All Together

Password management technology is a strong cornerstone of security in platforms like mobility, and needs to take a prominent role in IoT and OT. If 2016 is anything like 2015, it’s going to be a wild ride.

Hypersocket single sign-on is part of a series of solutions built on the Hypersocket Framework (HSF), an open source project that enables rapid development of web-based JSON services with granular role-based access controls based on the principle of least privilege.

If you want to become a part of this thriving community, please evaluate, tweet and share this blog or any others you find helpful or interesting. And we’ll do our best to keep them coming for you, now and in the New Year!

This Blog was brought to you by Hypersocket and its CEO, Lee David Painter. With over 20 years of industry experience as a pioneer in IT Security, Lee developed the world’s first OpenSource browser-based SSL VPN (SSL-Explorer). Today Lee runs Hypersocket, a leader in virtual private network technology.
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