cyber-threat trends

Cyber cold war and face recognition flaws: 7 cybersecurity predictions for 2019

Adam Bannister

Editor, IFSEC Global

Author Bio ▼

Adam Bannister is editor of IFSEC Global. A former managing editor at Dynamis Online Media Group, he has been at the helm of the UK's leading fire and security publication since 2014.
December 10, 2018

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A landmark court case where an employee and employer blame each other for a data breach is one of seven 2019 predictions from cybersecurity firm Forcepoint.

The 2019 Forcepoint Cybersecurity Predictions Report also forecasts an intensification in state-sponsored hacking – dubbed a cyber cold war – and that organisations, realising that face recognition is easier to fool than previously thought, will ramp up deployment of behaviour-based systems.

Devised to help organisations anticipate and prepare for evolving and emerging threats, the report describes a ‘hyper-converged’ landscape where connected systems are putting critical data, intellectual property and even people’s safety at risk.

Forcepoint – a Texas-based, ‘global human-centric cybersecurity company’ – believes that collaboration and leveraging data creatively through technology are key to mitigating or combating these threats.

“One way to increase trust and gain control is through behavioural modeling to understand reasons behind users’ activity.” Raffael Marty, VP, research and intelligence, Forcepoint

“The cybersecurity industry and attackers expend efforts in a never-ending cycle of breach, react, and circumvent – a true cat-and-mouse game,” said Raffael Marty, vice president of research and intelligence at Forcepoint. “We need to escape this game.

“Researching these predictions forces us to step back and see the overall forest among the millions of trees. Cybersecurity professionals and business leaders need to adapt to changes based on the risk they represent, allowing them to free the good while still stopping the bad.”

In a survey of security specialists, data scientists and behavioural intelligence researchers, 94% believed migration to the cloud was an serious concern. More than half (58%) are actively seeking trustworthy providers with a strong reputation for security, while security concerns will persuade 31% to limit the volume of data stored in the cloud.

“One way to increase trust and gain control is through behavioural modeling of users or, more specifically, their digital identities, to understand the reasons behind their activity,” said Marty. “Understanding how a user acts on the network and within applications can identify behavioral anomalies that help inform risk-adaptive responses.” 

Forcepoint’s seven cybersecurity predictions for 2019

  1. Organisations are resorting to artificial intelligence (AI) to plug the cybersecurity skills gap, with a shortfall of 3.5 million cybersecurity professionals expected by 2021. However, AI is overhyped, implies Forcepoint – indeed, systems described as using AI invariably actually use machine learning instead. Forcepoint ponders the wisdom of trusting algorithms and analytics to perform a widening array of jobs hitherto done by humans – including automated alerting of potential data breaches. A slowdown of AI funding is also highlighted as problematic.
  2. ‘Always-on’ connectivity makes industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) devices vulnerable. Exploiting vulnerabilities in cloud infrastructure and hardware, hackers could disrupt critical industries. Growth in edge computing and number of devices connected to the cloud for updates and maintenance are of paramount concern.
  3. Email addresses, passwords and personal information are no longer enough to protect identities online. Phishing attacks, which remains simple, low cost and effective, have been around a long time and remain hugely popular among cybercriminals. As attackers exploit flaws in face recognition software, organisations will respond by deploying behaviour-based systems.
  4. Forcepoint predicts that 2019 will herald a court case that pits employee against employee in a wrangle over culpability following a data breach. The report explains why a victory in the courtroom for the employer could be a pyrrhic victory.
  5. China and Russia have been accused throughout 2018 of meddling in democratic elections, conducting espionage to steal intellectual property and targeting critical infrastructure through cyber-attacks. Forcepoint expects geopolitical tensions and growing isolationism to only spur further state-sponsored attacks next year. 
  6. GDPR and public concern about frequent, enormous data breaches have prompted organisations to introduce new privacy safeguards. Edge computing solutions – which allows consumers to store their data on their smartphone or laptop (on the ‘edge’) – must win consumers’ trust that data will not be leaked to the cloud.
  7. Organisations are being warned that resilience must extend beyond their own internal procedures and protections. A weakness anywhere in their supply chain could create a bridgehead to their own data. As organisations seek assurances that partners are cyber-vigilant, industry-wide security trust ratings – TripAdvisor-style ratings for cybersecurity, if you like – will emerge.

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