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GCN : January 2013
20 GCN JANUARY 2013 • GCN.COM CYBEREYE BY WILLIAM JACKSON "IT'S DIFFICULT TO MAKE predictions, especially about the future." That quote has been attrib- uted to everyone from Mark Twain to physicist Niels Bohr and baseball great Yogi Berra, but its uncertain origin doesn t make it any less true. So I took the easy way out in last year s predictions of coming trends in cybersecurity, saying that 2012 would be a lot like 2011. "Popular technologies that came to the fore in 2011 will continue to be the targets for choice in the coming year," I wrote. "It is a classic case of, If you build it, they will come. " Despite giving myself this softball pitch, I still managed to bat only about .500 for the year. Which really isn t too bad, either for baseball or prognostication. To be honest, however, I should give the credit --- whereanyisdue---tomy sources. Here is how things played out in spotting the pain points for 2012: BRING YOUR OWN DEVICE I ll give myself a hit on this one. The migration of increas- ingly powerful mobile devices into the workplace was a ma- jor concern for administrators who had to find ways to man- age and secure the devices and control access to sensitive resources. Malware for the devices continued to grow, especially for Androids, and even legitimate applications have proved to be leaky, buggy and grabby. It should be noted, however, that mobile devices still have not become the platform of choice for delivering attacks to the enterprise or stealing sen- sitive information in bulk lots. Like network administrators, the bad guys still are figuring out how to e ectively manage and make the most of these devices. Still, the risk has to be taken seriously. SOCIAL NETWORKING Another hit. Social networking has proven to be a double- edged sword, becoming an important medium for busi- ness communication and at the same time providing a rich source of data for social engi- neering and misinformation. It is no surprise that in- creasingly popular sites have become tools for phishing attacks and launching mali- cious code. The risks do not seem to have outweighed the perceived advantages yet, as organizations constantly look for ways to use social chan- nels, focusing their concerns on making them more e ec- tive rather than more secure. Getting more attention than the malicious use of the sites are the privacy policies of the companies running them. THE CLOUD This one was neither a hit noramiss---moreofafoul ball. Over the past year, cloud services have proven no more or no less secure than other platforms. Cloud computing is a hot business opportunity in government, but both pro- viders and customers seem to be cautious enough about the security of the services that it has not become a major issue. But with major cloud service providers having experienced several high- profile service outages in the past two years, reliability has emerged as more of an issue than security. Google su ered a brief outage in October, but Amazon was the worst hit (or the biggest o ender) with three outages of its Web Services in 2011 and 2012. Most recently, its Northern Virginia data center in Ashburn was knocked out by severe weather in June and then again because of an equipment failure in October. Planning for outages and data backup are as important as security when moving critical operations or services to the cloud. IPV6 This was a miss. Not that the exhaustion of new IPv4 address space and the switch to the next generation of In- ternet Protocols wasn t a big story in 2012. But the volume of IPv6 traffic has remained so small, even as federal agencies and major online organizations enable it, that it still has not emerged as a security problem. The risks remain, of course. It is di cult to say whether security tools for IPv6 are operating at parity with IPv4 tools, and as the volume of IPv6 tra c inevitably grows this will be an issue. There is also the chance that largely unmanaged IPv6 tra c could be used as a channel for slipping past traditional defenses. But so far these issues have not created large problems. CURRENT EVENTS This one seems to be a miss as well. The threat was that 2012 s high-profile events --- such as the London Olympics and the U.S. presidential election --- would be used to ensnare victims with phish- ing attacks and search engine poisoning. Some of this did happen, but it didn t seem to be any worse than any other year. All in all, a so-so set of predictions for 2012. What will 2013 bring? No one can say for sure, but that won t stop us from trying. Re- searchers at Internet Identity are looking an extra year out to identify emerging threats. "Anybody can do 2013 pre- dictions," said Paul Ferguson, vice president of threat intel- ligence at Internet Identity. "So we decided to be bold and do predictions for 2014." The predictions are not comforting. They include death by Internet-connected devices and the use of emerg- ing Near Field Communica- tions in smartphones for large-scale fraud and theft. The first phones using NFC already are on the market, and proof-of-concept attacks to control or disrupt Internet enabled medical devices have been publicly demonstrated.• THREAT PREDICTIONS FOR 2012: THE HITS AND MISSES