2016 Cyber Threat Landscape

In 2016 the cyber threat landscape will be increasingly more complex for organizations to navigate as cyber criminals (bad actors) up their game and widen targets. Intel Security recently released its McAfee Labs Threats Predictions Report, outlining the top cyber risks organizations will face in 2016. Below is a brief summary of several of the key cyber threats based on the report’s findings:

Ransomware: More cyber criminals will leverage dark ransomware-as-a-service offerings, which may further accelerate the growth of this threat. Ransomware is the type of malware that prevents or limits users from accessing their data (think CrytoLocker), and forces its victims to pay the ransom through online payment methods in order to regain access to their data.

Attacks through employee systems: Attackers are increasingly prone to attack organizations through their employees, by targeting, among other things, employees’ less secure home systems to gain access to corporate networks.

Cloud services: Cyber criminals may seek to exploit weak or unenforced organization security policies established to protect cloud services. An increasing amount of business confidential information is stored in the cloud and such services, if exploited, can compromise organizational business strategy, new innovations, financial information, acquisition and divestiture plans, and employee data.

Warehouses of stolen data: Stolen personally identifiable information sets are being linked together in big data warehouses, making the combined records more valuable to bad actors. 2016 will see the development of an even more robust dark market for stolen personally identifiable information and usernames and passwords.

Integrity attacks: Compromises to the integrity of systems and data involve seizing and modifying transactions or data for the benefit of the cyber criminals, such as a bad actor changing the direct deposit settings for a victim’s pay checks and having money deposited into a different account.

Wearables: Although most wearable devices store a relatively small amount of personal information, wearable platforms could be targeted by bad actors working to compromise the smart phones used to manage them.

Hardware: Attacks on all types of hardware and firmware will continue, and the dark market for tools that make them possible will expand and grow.

As we enter into 2016, it is important for organizations to understand the cyber threats they face and to take measures to minimize these risks.