As far as I can tell, the world did not end in 2012. An asteroid did not hit the planet, the earth’s core did not stop spinning and the zombie apocalypse (sadly) did not occur. But that does not mean that we are out of the woods just yet. We live in a dangerous world and we face threats of all kind each and every day, especially in cyberspace.
There are lots of cyber security experts out there, and one of the best is Chiranjeev Bordoloi, CEO of Top Patch. Bordoloi has consulted with government agencies, financial institutions and Fortune 500 companies for more than 20 years. He recently spoke about the top cyber security threats of 2013, and if you thought that cyber crimes were limited to hacking your debit card or spamming your inbox, you might be surprised at his predictions.
Bordoloi predicts that cyber crimes will not be limited to attacks on PCs and large corporate databases. He foresees a rise in attacks on cell phones. Hackers will virtually kidnap cell phones and hold them for ransom with a tactic called “ransomware.” This is already common overseas and could be making its way to the US. He also predicts that hackers will target smart TVs, which are vulnerable because they often use unsecured wireless Internet connections. Hackers have already started stealing movies and games, and may become more ambitious in the future. They will also attack bloggers, exploiting content management systems with historically weak security, and then launching malware to steal data from frequent visitors.
But Bordoloi’s predictions do not stop there, and he foresees some very serious problems associated with cyber crime in the near future. First, he predicts that criminals will prey on individuals who have been affected by natural disasters. After a hurricane, tornado or other such disaster, networks are extremely vulnerable, and cyber criminals can take advantage of security gaps to make an already difficult situation even worse. Bordoloi also foresees a rise in organized groups of cyber terrorists attempting to overthrow governments. He sees the next great revolution being fought on a virtual battlefield, which creates a whole new set of problems for national security and stability in countries that already face economic troubles and social unrest. Finally, and perhaps most frightening of all, Bordoloi expects that in 2013, virtual attacks will result in loss of human life. Rogue agents could attack power grids, nuclear reactors, hospitals or assembly lines with more sophisticated virtual weapons, resulting in unprecedented tragedies.
Another cyber security expert who weighed in on potential pitfalls for the future is David Manan, founder and CTO of GreenSQL. He agrees that mobile devices will become more and more common – perhaps accounting for 80 percent of all devices accessing the Internet – and therefore he sees them as a popular target for cybercrime. He also feels that databases -- which hold so much personal and financial information – will be targeted more frequently in 2013 and that embedded devices, such as air conditioning and lighting controls -- will also be vulnerable to attack. Manan also foresees a rise in malware and believes that cloud security will be a major area of concern in the coming year.
Overall, it seems like we all need to be a bit more vigilant about cyber security in 2013. Just because we survived the end of the Mayan calendar does not mean we can rest on our laurels. We should take heed and listen to the warnings of experts like Bordoloi and Manan, and take extra care of our data and our mobile devices. That way, when the asteroid does hit the earth, we’ll be able to tweet about it without fear of contracting any malware. It would be an awkward way to welcome the end of the world, right?