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Three cybersecurity vendors outline 16 industry predictions for 2020

12 Dec 2019

With 2019 coming to a close, Ping Identity, Attivo Networks, and LogRhythm’s experts share what 2020 holds in store for cybersecurity.

Ping Identity chief customer officer Richard Bird

1. Authentication means everything: With the recent and continued failings of companies to secure customer access, 2020 will likely see the rise of large-scale multi-factor authentication adoption by enterprises and consumers. Companies who are truly looking to protect their customers and most importantly their revenues, will embrace higher forms of authentication to achieve those ends.

2. Privacy and security become competitive advantages: In 2019, we saw the very beginnings of commercial enterprises promoting their privacy and security practices to their customers as a competitive advantage. In 2020, this trend will accelerate as companies begin to adjust to the new reality. A reality where more than 60% of customers hold companies responsible for protecting their data.

3. Rise of the digital identity: Digital identities were a thing of fiction just a few years ago. In 2020, commercial and government interests will begin to intersect as governments, as well as various sectors of business (ie: financial services, social media, healthcare) rush to build “digital identity standards”. Some standards will be built with the needs of the consumer/citizen in mind, but time will tell if others attempt to capitalise and commercialise the value of these digital identities.

4. Consumers and citizens' patience runs out: In 2019 consumers and citizens began to voice their concerns over companies' repeated data breaches and security failures that have exposed their data, finances, families and services to greater and greater risks. In 2020, we’ll see true and substantial consequences for organisations that do not keep their customers, employees, partners and citizens safe in the digital world. With over 80% of consumers reporting they would stop engaging with a brand online following a data breach, it's clear that people are ready to walk away from companies that can’t get identity and security right.

Attivo Networks chief deception officer Carolyn Crandall

1. 2020 will be the year of API connectivity. Driven by the need for on-demand services and automation, there will be a surge in requirements for the use of technology that interconnects through APIs. Vendors that don’t interconnect may find themselves passed over for selection in favour of others with API access that add value to existing solutions.

2. DevOps capabilities will continue to increase their significance in moving projects to products, as more organisations fully embrace DevOps each year. This will drive increased awareness of security risks and put an additional focus on DevSecOps and how opensource software is managed within projects.

3. We will begin to see more examples of the theft of encrypted data as cybercriminals begin to stockpile information in preparation for the benefits of quantum-computing where traditional encryption will become easy to crack. The advances in quantum computing that Google has recently published bring this possibility closer to becoming reality.

4. Significant issues will surface around the lack of adequate detection of threats that have bypassed prevention defences. To combat this, in 2020, we will see the addition of deception technology into security framework guidelines, compliance requirements, and as a factor in cyber insurance premiums and coverage.

LogRhythm Labs

1. An insider will manipulate AI to wrongly put an innocent person in prison.

Because people train artificial intelligence (AI), AI adopts the same human biases we thought it would ignore. However, this hasn’t stopped the legal system from employing it. Just last year, a judge ordered Amazon to turn over Echo recordings in a double murder case. With AI already primed to make biased decisions based on the information it receives, an insider could exploit this to feed it false information to more directly implicate someone of a crime. In making AI more human, the likelihood that it makes mistakes will increase.

2. The US election will definitely be hacked and influenced.

After the revelation of Russian interference in the 2016 US presidential elections, election tampering is at the forefront of the news as we approach the 2020 elections. Hackers (nation-state or others) won’t have to do much more than infiltrate the system – or make it seems like they’ve infiltrated the system – to undermine people’s confidence in the election and exacerbate the current state of turmoil.

3. We’ll see the consequences of increased adoption of biometrics.

Before we see adequate regulation and security to protect biometric data, there are going to be some unlucky people whose biometric information is stolen and used for repeat fraud. If your credit card details are stolen, you can easily change your account number. But what if your face gets stolen? Once that information is compromised, there’s no swapping it out. Before the industry catches up and understands how to properly protect it, we’re going to see the consequences of the increased adoption of biometrics.

4. Iran’s offensive cyber operations will grow at a faster rate than China’s.

While China has been seen as one of the top nation-state threats in recent year, we’re going to see Iran outpace the country in 2020. Tensions between the U.S. and Iran have increased since the multiple incidents seen over the summer, and unlike China, Iran doesn’t have formal diplomatic relations with the US. It’s also not a big trade partner. Combined, these factors mean they have less to lose.

5. Quantum computing will break out of the lab and see use by users and threat actors alike.

Google’s “Sycamore” project was heralded as a breakthrough for quantum computing earlier this year. And while we’re certainly still far off from the advanced quantum computing that could change the way we perform standard cryptography; we are already seeing quantum computing make its way into the mainstream. For example, Microsoft announced its new Azure Quantum service, which will soon allow select customers to run quantum code and use quantum hardware. These developments in quantum computing will likely have a significant impact on modern AI as well, helping to speed up AI’s data analysis and subsequent decision making. And by offering quantum technology to the masses, we’re sure to see an uptick in the development, adoption, and usefulness of quantum and modern AI throughout 2020 – both among legitimate users and malicious hackers.

6. Deepfakes will become convenient scapegoats.

Hackers have successfully been using deepfakes to impersonate executives to get large sums of money transferred to them. But in 2020, deepfakes will become a tool for not just hackers; regular people will start using them — but not to steal. Instead, we’ll see “deepfake as a defense” — a convenient scapegoat to avoid professional or even legal repercussions.

7. Ransomware is going to expand into the critical infrastructure business.

Ransomware continues to be easy cash for hackers, recently reaching an average payout of $41,000 USD, according to SC Magazine. Given ransomware’s proven track record, it’s time for hackers to take it to new markets. Critical infrastructure is a prime target: while most ransomware isn’t built to target this type of infrastructure, it can still be used in those environments, and shutting down a power grid is certainly going to yield a significantly higher than average payout – not to mention it could lay the foundation of distrust in the government’s ability to protects its citizens. Critical infrastructure is due for another significant breach anyway, making 2020 the perfect opportunity to introduce ransomware into this space.

8. Eavesdropping on smart speakers will result in a major political scandal.

If our smart devices are listening to us, to improve the decisionmaking in the devices’ AI, then a human needs to be listening too. We believe this will result in a behind-the-scenes employee becoming the next whistleblower — exposing secrets that will lead to the next political scandal.