Cybersecurity predictions 2016: Expect geopolitical cyber attacks in the wake of the US Presidential election and the Rio Olympics

Dan Holden
Donald Trump Holds Campaign Rally In Dallas
The US Presidential election will bring cybercrime in its wake (Source: Getty)

New York City in the 1980s was a portrait for crime and violence. Graffiti covered train stations and shop fronts, the city was gritty and a tough place to live. It spurred many politicians to be “tough on crime” in order to get elected and while it still features in many politicians’ policies, it no longer has a strong focus as New York City is now far safer with a stigma now decades old.

The streets of New York City may have improved, but crime in the cyber world is getting far worse. When we contemplate security we often think about how our computers, devices and applications are protected, with cyber attackers lurking ready to attack at any moment to steal our data.

Unfortunately, this is not far away from the truth.

What we can see from reading the daily headlines is that our current security is not as effective as it could or should be. While cyber attacks are not a new concept in today’s digital world, the nature of the cybercrime industry means it is constantly evolving and things continue to get worse.

Attacks last year on TalkTalk and Ashley Madison highlight the reality of its far-sweeping consequences for large swaths of people and how even the largest of companies can become victims.

To begin to fix this, instead of trying to hide from cyber criminals, it’s time for us to understand the threat so we know how to combat them.

2016 will be a big year for geopolitical cyber attacks. With huge events including a US presidential election and Olympics, attacks with the intention of making a statement whilst the whole world is watching will be no surprise. Even smaller local politics can have a reflection in the cyber realm.

Attackers will move beyond traditional cyber attacks and more towards advanced threats. The severity and number of cybercrime campaigns making use of personal information to resell or share is continually rising. The purpose being for other attackers to reuse this data to access the person’s workplace for more targeted and damaging results. In 2016 we can expect the connection to grow between these two different campaign worlds so companies need to be ready.

Finally, the growing role of the employee in protecting the organisation should become more apparent in 2016. At present, one of the primary problems is the inability to hire employees with theright skills required. There is now increasing pressure with the business to educate their employees as more often than not it’s their behaviour, often inadvertently, which is the weakest link. On the job training should become more of an investment and trend, and attracting young talent in order to scale to these needs.

The fact is that we need to do more in 2016. Attackers will only become stealthier so it’s up to both consumers and organisations alike to proactively defend themselves with a combination of technology, process and people.

People may often be the weakest link in a business, but they are also often the most important solution. Technology should begin to focus on the people and processes, rather than attempting to be the silver bullet that so many might hope for.

It’s time for us to move away from the perception that crime involves gangsters, and instead realise that attackers could be anyone behind a computer screen. By having multi-layered security and educating staff appropriately, organisations can protect themselves by having the best defence possible.

City A.M.'s opinion pages are a place for thought-provoking views and debate. These views are not necessarily shared by City A.M.

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