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Online extortion, mobile malware and hacktivism on cards for 2016

28 Oct 2015

Next year will be the year of online extortion, as cybercriminals devise new ways to personalise attacks, while mobile malware and hacktivism will increase and organisations will shift to an offensive cybersecurity posture.

That’s one of a number of predictions from Tend Micro’s annual security predictions report, The Fine Line: 2016 Security Predictions, which says 2016 will mark a significant turning point for malvertising as increased ad-blocking products and services force cybercriminals to find new means to target victims, resulting in fewer malvertisements.

The security vendor says there was a 41% increase in consumers globally using online ad blocking software this year, resulting in advertisers seeking to alter their approach to online ads, and cybercriminals looking elsewhere to obtain user information.

Meanwhile, the growing popularity of smart devices in New Zealand and the accompanying challenges such as a diversity of operating systems and lack of regulation for the devices, ‘are likely to lead to device failure in some instances and at least one incident causing fatality’, Trend Micro says.

The security vendor says that will trigger a conversation on creating regulations on device production and usage.

Tim Falinkski, Trend Micro Australia and New Zealand consumer director, says “We’ve already seen hacking in devices ranging from baby monitors to smart TVs and connected cars, and as consumers in Australia and New Zealand rapidly embrace smart devices, we need to be aware of the potential dangers.

“As more drones operate in public air space, more devices are used for healthcare services and more appliances are internet-enabled, the more likely we are to see device malfunction, hacking and misuse,” Falinkski says.

Dhanya Thakkar, Trend Micro Asia Pacific managing director, says 2016 will be ‘a very significant year’ for both sides of the cybercrime equation.

“Government and the private sector will begin to see the benefit of cybersecurity foresight, with changes in legislation and the increasing addition of cybersecurity officers within enterprises,” Thakkar says.

“In addition, as users become more aware of online threats, attackers will react by developing sophisticated, personalised schemes to target individuals and corporations alike.”

He says cybercriminals will turn to psychological analysis and social engineering of prospective victims, accelerating online extortion. Hactivists will be driven to expose even more incriminating information, impacting targets and facilitating secondary infections.

“Hackers consistently evolve to adapt to their surroundings, just as online ads are declining, we see ransomware is increasing,” Thakkar says.

The report also says hacktivists will escalate attack methods to systematically destroy targets with high-profile data breaches, and less than 50% of organisations are expected to have cybersecurity experts on staff by the end of 2016.

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