By Steve McWhirter – vice president of Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa at Check Point
If I asked you to come up with a single word summarizing 2014 IT security, it might just be breach. It seems like we heard about one attack after another last year, mostly involving major brands. Between the frequency of the breaches and the high profiles of the businesses involved, 2014 sent all organizations a clear message: everyone is at risk.
Some threats had been predicted and others caught security professionals by surprise. For instance, the social engineering exploits that caused the famous eBay and celebrity photo iCloud breaches were anticipated. So were targeted malware campaigns like RAM Scraper and Ransomware attacks, and mobile security problems associated with the rising trend of BYOD. Yet the massive Heartbleed and Shellshock vulnerabilities stunned IT teams everywhere.
But that was last year. With a new year stretching before us, it’s time to combine our 2014 hindsight with some 2015 foresight. Here are the IT security threats and trends you can expect to see in 2015 – and ways you can mitigate your risk and stay a few jumps ahead of evolving criminal tactics.
7 Threats and Trends to Watch
Safeguarding SDN It’s true that SDN can boost security – namely by routing traffic through a gateway and IPS, thereby reprogramming and restructuring a network suffering a DDoS attack. It can also automatically quarantine any infected endpoints or networks. But security must be designed into the SDN concept – and because SDN is being increasingly adopted in data centers, you can expect to see targeted attacks that try to exploit SDN controllers to bypass network defenses.
Blocking Zero Day Malware
The new face of malware is fast and stealthy. Over a third of organizations downloaded at least one file infected with unknown malware last year, thanks to obfuscation tools that help attacks slip past even sophisticated solutions. 73 percent had existing bot infections, with 77 percent infections active for more than four weeks – a disturbing length of time given that the average bot attempts to communicate with its Command and Control center is every three minutes.
Open source, open target
Open source vulnerabilities like Heartbleed and Poodle affected nearly every IT operation in the world. While organizations may not be able to anticipate the next massive vulnerability, they should understand that flaws in open-source and commonly used platforms offer hackers rich opportunities.
Addressing mobile momentum
The explosion in mobile device popularity presents a tough challenge, according to Check Point’s global survey of more than 700 businesses; 42 percent had suffered mobile security incidents costing more than $250,000 to remediate – and 82 percent expected incidents to rise during 2015. Considering the direct access to assets like passwords, email, documents and company networks and applications, smart security practitioners will make mobile security a top priority.
Managing mobile payment security
While some mobile payment solutions like Apple Pay, Google Wallet and PayPal offer multiple layers of security involving tokenization and encryption, not all of these systems have been thoroughly tested to withstand real-world threats. It’s a safe bet that attackers will be searching out vulnerabilities to exploit.
Critical Infrastructure attacks
Nearly 70 percent of critical infrastructure companies surveyed by the Ponemon Institute suffered a security breach over the last year. Unfortunately we can probably expect more cyberattacks on public utilities and key industrial processes in 2015, namely through malware that targets the SCADA systems that control those processes.
Dangerous devices The Internet of Things is an exciting trend, but these IP-based appliances often provide criminals with unsecured networks. Consider also the security implications of wearable tech and companion devices that connect to tablets and smartphones. Are companies prepared to mitigate the risk of employees wearing Google Glass or the Apple Watch?
The Path to Protection
The evidence is clear: criminals are everywhere and relentless. Here are the three strategies I recommend adopting to keep your network safe and your security strong:
1) Implement a multi-layer threat prevention to fend off any vectors from attacks;
2) Subscribe and leverage a robust Threat Intelligence network for real-time prevention 3) Gain greater visibility through security management to easily and timely identify any early signs of attacks
The breaches of last year may have reached alarming levels, but it’s important to remember that every organization, large and small, can find the right tools and expertise to stay safe. Criminals will keep evolving but white hat organizations will evolve too – and by collaborating in our security endeavors, we can collectively create a stronger industry.