I came across an interesting article from my friends over at ThreatMetrix a few weeks ago that caught my eye—it’s the company’s annual list of what it considers the most important emerging cyberthreats for the upcoming year. I covered last year’s roundup—Cyberthreats of 2013—and was pleased/sorry to see how accurate and insightful the list was, with three of the five items making headlines during the year.
Cybercrime is an interesting phenomenon: On one end of the spectrum is a middle school girl who has her Facebook account hacked and used for cyberbullying, and on the other end is a data breach that compromises millions of credit card numbers costing victims thousands of dollars; the anonymity and scalability of the Internet makes it possible for one singular person to perpetrate both of these crimes.
So what do we have to look forward to in 2014?
The Internet of Things: The world is growing more and more connected every day—from refrigerators to cars to clothes—and the privacy and security implications are startling. Industry analysts estimate that 30 billion devices will wirelessly connect to the Internet by 2020, and while it seems silly to think that a WiFi toothbrush could steal your identity or send spam emails, the probability is increasing.
Critical Infrastructure: Think about the things that we all use on a daily basis: Water, electricity, roads… All of these services rely heavily on computer-based platforms. The battlefield has moved from reality into cyberspace and infrastructure in the United States faces cyber attacks every day. The issue has become so severe that an Executive Order to improve infrastructure cybersecurity was signed in February 2013.
Data Privacy: The National Security Administration’s PRISM program surprised and angered many Americans after it was revealed that their personal information was collected and stored. It is likely that personal information will only grow more desirable in the future—to governments and marketers—and be sought out in less-than-transparent methods.
Alternative Payments: I wrote about Bitcoins last Spring when the value hovered around $47 per Bitcoin—the current value as of this post is approximately $800 per coin—and they are practically mainstream: You can purchase a hotdog and soda at a Sacramento Kings game; buy an electric snow-cone machine from Overstock.com; and book your next trip into space with Virgin Galactic. However convenient and ubiquitous, these types of digital currency are still unregulated and prone to malware.
Mobile Transactions: Mobile transactions are poised to grow by 40 percent in 2014 to nearly $325 billion, but the dangers of unsecure apps and networks are very real. Check out BBB’s August 2012 article: Don’t Be Dumb with Smartphones.
Online Transactions: Just as fast as security experts can shutdown viruses and malware, new threats emerge. If the high-profile data breaches in 2013 are any indication of the future, online bankers and shoppers will need to exercise caution.
If you still don’t believe that cybercrime is a big deal—or if you’re just looking to quit your day job and become a bounty-hunter—check out the FBI’s Most Wanted Cybercriminals who have arrest rewards ranging from $20,000 to $100,000; but you have to split the bounty with me.
Full Disclosure: Overstock.com is a BBB Accredited Business headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah.