5 Cybersecurity threat targets to watch in 2017

Ali Raza is an independent cybersecurity expert and journalist. We welcome him to the DataGravity blog to share his view of the 2017 threat landscape. Read on for tips from Raza about the threats deserving your concern and action in the next year, and stay tuned for predictions from the DataGravity team.

2016 has been a topsy-turvy year for the security industry, with some wins here and there – and definitely some losses too. Excessive data breaches, many of which took place years ago, were revealed; there was a point when a new breaching incident was coming to light almost every other day. Various companies, both big and small, suffered attacks from hackers, which just proves that no one is immune to the cyberattacks that are becoming increasingly sophisticated with each passing day.

A report by the Identity Theft Resource Center showed that as of October 19 of this year, about 783 breaches had been revealed. This amounts to more than two breaches a day, and the year has not even begun to wind down. A reported 29 million records were reported as exposed, though this figure might be highly inaccurate, considering breaches such as a Yahoo incident that saw half a billion accounts compromised. However, what do these numbers pinpoint? Clearly, attacks are increasing with each passing day and they show no signs of slowing down. And as we look toward the year 2017, some growing security trends and threats can be expected. Here are the top five cybersecurity threat targets deserving your concern:

1. Mobile devices

The mobile device is fundamental for the human race in this day and age, and the mobile market will continually grow. Therefore, attacks starting from mobile devices are expected to become a significant corporate concern. Recent attacks on journalists’ devices, rumored to have been state-sponsored, show that this attack method will surely prevail in 2017.

2. Internet of Things (IoT) devices

A recent security incident saw major sites such as Twitter, Netflix and Spotify go down after attacks were perpetrated through IoT devices. These devices are making the industry more vulnerable, and they are rigged with so many loopholes that exploiting them is easy. The manufacturing industry for these products has a big issue to solve – unless proper measures are taken, IoT devices will be an easy gateway for cyberattackers to target networks and companies.

3. Critical infrastructure

Some critical infrastructure is highly susceptible to cyberattacks, such as nuclear power plants and telecommunications towers. Such infrastructure was built before today’s level of internet connectivity, meaning there was no protection initially built in. Earlier this year, the first critical infrastructure blackout was reported, which was a result of a cyberattack. Security researchers and planners need to protect critical infrastructure, as many hacking attempts will be seen in the coming year from various entities such as terrorist groups, state-sponsored groups and organized crime.

4. Organizations lacking threat prevention strategies

Ransomware is another attack mechanism that has been gaining traction in the past few months. The attack is being used as much as DDoS attacks, and its prevention might be costly to businesses. The success of ransomware attacks will push many organizations to employ a multifaceted prevention strategy, which will result in advanced sandboxing and threat extraction so they can effectively protect their networks. The industry will also need to find a way to identify and deal with the attackers who launch ransomware campaigns.

5. Cloud services

Cloud usage has shot over the roof over in the past year, while more and more data is being made available and collected by potential attackers. If an attack is carried out on a major cloud platform such as Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure or an OpenStack cloud solution, many enterprises will surely be affected. Attacks targeting the cloud will also be used as a way to fight the specific cloud provider or organization owning the data in question, which would mean it would become difficult to determine a specific motive. However, businesses are continuing to rapidly leverage cloud platforms, which means attacks on the industry will be inevitable.

A recent post from SecurityJar paints a grim picture of the information security landscape in 2017. But, surely as we always do as humans, we will find new ways to conquer any security threats that arise.


Ali is a freelance journalist, with five years of experience in web journalism and marketing. He contributes to various online publications. With a master’s degree, he combines his passions for writing about internet security and technology. When he is not working, he loves traveling and playing games.

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