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Top Cyber Security Trends for 2016

In the ever changing and increasingly complex landscape of cyber security, Sophos experts offer their top predictions for 2016.

1. Android threats will become more than just headline-grabbers

In 2016, an increase in Android exploits becoming weaponised can be expected (as opposed to bugs like Stagefright which was heavily reported in 2015 but was never fully exploited). There are significant vulnerabilities on the Android platform, which can take months to patch.

2. Will 2016 be the year iOS malware goes mainstream?

The Apple App Store got hit a few times last year, once with the InstaAgent app which snuck through the vetting processes, which both Google and Apple pulled from their respective app stores, and before that, with XcodeGhost, which tricked Apple app developers into incorporating the code into their apps, thereby infecting them but cleverly hidden behind what looked like Apple code.

3. IoT platforms – not yet the weapon of choice for commercial malware authors – but business beware

Every day, more and more technology is being incorporated into our lives. IoT (Internet of Things) devices are connecting everything around us and interesting new use cases are appearing constantly. IoT will continue to produce endless scary stories based on the fact that these devices are insecure (early 2015 saw many stories focusing on webcams, baby monitors and children’s toys and latterly cars have become a hot topic – researchers hacked a jeep in July).

4. SMBs will become a bigger target for cybercriminals

Throughout 2015, the focus was on the big glamorous hacking stories like Talk Talk and Ashley Madison, but it is not just large organisations that were being targeted. A recent PwC report revealed that 74 percent of Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) experienced a security issue in 2015, and this number will only increase due to SMBs being perceived as ‘easy targets’.

5. Data protection legislation changes will lead to increased fines for the unprepared

In 2016, the pressure on organisations to secure customers’ data will increase, as the EU data protection legislation looms closer. In future, businesses will face severe penalties if data is not robustly secured. This will have a far-reaching impact for how businesses deal with security, including the high-risk area of employee personal devices.

6. VIP Spoofware is here to stay

Growth in the use of VIP spoof wire transfers can be expected in 2016. Hackers are becoming increasingly talented at infiltrating business networks to gain visibility of personnel and their responsibilities, followed by using this information to trick staff for financial gain.

7. Ransomware momentum

Ransomware will continue to dominate in 2016 and it is only a question of time before ransomware goes beyond data. It is perhaps some time away before a sufficient mass of internet-enabled cars or homes are common, but one should ask the question: how long before the first car or house is held for ransom? Attackers will increasingly threaten to go public with data, rather than just taking it hostage, and recently, there have been some websites being held ransom to DDoS.

8. Social engineering is on the up

As cyber security comes to the fore and social engineering continues to evolve, businesses will invest more in protecting themselves from such psychological attacks. They will achieve this by investing in staff training, and ensuring there are strict consequences for repeat offenders. Employees need to be trained on how to be security savvy when using the company network.

9. Both bad and good guys will be more coordinated

The bad guys will continue to use coordinated attacks but the cyber security industry will make significant strides forward with information sharing.