The federal government doesn’t have a crystal ball within reach, but it can use certain tools and reports to get an idea of what the future may hold. One example is McAfee’s 2016 Threats Predictions report.
Billed as a “five-year cybersecurity forecast,” the McAfee Labs 2016 Threats Predictions report approaches the future from two angles: interviews with security experts and predictions about future threats. In the first section, 21 insiders offer their opinions about how threats will evolve by 2020 as well as how the security industry will react to them. The second part focuses on predicted threat behavior in 2016.
Hackers’ striking methods will be the biggest change, the report finds. An increase in the number of connected cars by 2020 will give cybercriminals something new to access. There’s also a growing concern that wearable devices such as smart watches will create new vulnerabilities. There will be 780 million wearable devices in use by 2019, according to the report, which describes a situation where wearables can be used to infiltrate smartphones:
GPS data collected from a running app that is tied to a fitness tracker. The spear-phisher could use that data to craft an email that you would be more likely to open. If you stop by a coffee shop after your run, using the GPS data an attacker could write an email saying “I think you dropped this at the coffee shop this morning” and include a link to an infected image file.
Unsurprisingly, the report states that hackers will only get craftier, combing through stolen personal data like Social Security and credit card information to spot patterns and sell credentials. What’s more, a rise in “hacktivism” — groups attacking information to make a point or push an agenda — is also expected.
The other burning question is what cybersecurity precautions are being taken to protect information in the future. The report touts behavioral analytics as “the next big weapon,” adding that sharing threat intelligence will also play an important role in stopping hackers.