The year 2015 could be considered an absolute mess when it comes to online security, and the frightening part is that it seems to be part of a trend of growing threats and inadequate responses. We saw endless attacks on the corporate sector and data centers, the growth of mobile threats as the smartphone market becomes more mainstream, and scammers use data in ways we haven’t seen before. We aren’t defenseless, but vigilance is necessary for even the most basic of internet users.
The next year is going to bring with it the logical progressions we expect along with massive innovations we won’t see coming. Hackers have the information gathering abilities that we do and are already planning ahead to get the drop on the latest trends. They follow the money, and the money comes from endangering you. Don’t worry, though, as you can absolutely defend yourself if you know what’s coming.
Let’s take a look at some of the main aspects of our online world and where they could lead:
Changes to Smartphones
As I write this, I can confidently say that my current smartphone is a better all-around device than my laptop was five years ago. The line between tablet and smartphone has already blurred to the point of near-erasure, and the coming year will continue this trend. Smartphones are computers with calling and texting capabilities, and hackers are starting to master hacks and malware specifically for them that can and will cause some real damage in the year 2016.
You might have already had to deal with mobile malware, but in the future, we are going to see even more diabolical variations. As phones get more features such as improved voice commands, recording malware will find ways to make money or gain control off of them, leading to some incredibly disturbing possibilities. Think about it: What if your phone’s virtual intelligence went rogue?
Over the next year, we are going to start to see some tools become standard just as an online security suite is standard today on desktops and laptops. Mobile protection apps are improving beyond weak cash grabs, and smartphones (especially Android phones) are including protection plans and tools from the start to keep up with the competition. Virtual Private Networks will become the standard as people use public networks to deal with sensitive data and want anonymity on their devices. Apps will be reviewed more often from a security standpoint.
The Home Market
The cybersecurity situation is most hopeful when it comes to the home market and your laptop and desktop computers. The latest operating systems can be problematic when it comes to cybersecurity concerns, but their protections seem to be keeping up with threats. The set of security tools and suites is diverse and strong, and while some companies are slipping behind, others are more than making up the difference to offer consumers the protection needed in today’s troubling online environment.
The internet itself hasn’t changed much and won’t look too much different in 12 months. Flash and Java are slowly making their exit, holding on to their last breaths as more developers and companies abandon them for their security vulnerabilities (a wonderful piece of news for internet users). Some plugins and toolbars will be dangerous, and others will fall into security obsolescence, but this has always been the way of things. The cautious user will remain a safe user, and only a major change or discovered exploit will change this.
Scams also persist, and they will adapt depending on the political and online climate at the time, working through people’s fears and ignorance. Expect to see a lot of politically-charged scams due to this being an election year in the US, and hot new products will be falsely offered for next to nothing in exchange for personal information. People will just remember to be suspicious when online.
What the home user will need to worry mostly about is what happens once data leaves their homes, as few hackers will bother spending an hour to get the data of one person when they can spend 100 hours to get the data of 10,000 people. They need to take a look at which corporations have their data.
Will Corporations Finally Learn?
Last year was a bad year for massive corporate breaches and the related data leaks. A few major hacks took the spotlight, but don’t let that distract you from the large swath of healthcare companies (both hospitals and insurance agencies) that lost customer data allowing for potential identity theft. The Ashley Madison hack taught us about some of the personal ramifications of cyberattacks, while the OPM showed us the scope that they can grow to.
We are even starting to see the legal ramifications for cybersecurity neglect, which will hopefully light a fire under the more stagnant companies when it comes to this important issue. If you see a notice in the mail saying that you might be part of a class-action lawsuit related to data neglect, don’t throw it away immediately. That being said, it will still take some time for companies to implement the proper security tools and procedures, meaning it will get worse before it gets better, with positive results starting to show themselves by December.
This year we will likely see some of these changes to the point where data security skills and training become the norm at most places of work by the end of this year. The news cycle will still emphasize just as many attacks as before, but they shouldn’t be nearly as common if companies are taking the proper steps. Angry customers change policies faster than laws and ethics ever could, and people are (rightly) starting to make their voices heard as they understand the implications of data loss.
We can be certain of nothing when it comes to the technology that helps us live our lives, but the trends make themselves clear, and there are certain threats we need to prepare for more than others. Your actions can help prepare for or even change the future, so learn more and keep up to date with the news. Notice slight changes in the online environment. Think about where your data goes when you send it out. Every bit of thought helps.
Do you have any predictions of your own regarding internet security or technology in general in the following year? Is there anything you’re particularly dreading or looking forward to? If so, please leave a comment below and let us know what you think. Your input is important and helps keep the conversation going.