The Government Technology blog recently predicted 17 possible cyber threats that might affect Internet users of all kinds in the current year. From IoT botnet hacks to fake government websites, cyber criminals will do whatever it takes to scam and steal.
Last year’s hacks seemed to be just a taste of what’s to come, according to these new reports. Ransomware is about to go mainstream, and as technology advances so does the cyber crime.
Here we list, the five craziest cyber threats predicted for 2017. The kind of stuff that fuels an internet-savvy person’s worst nightmares and which unsuspecting users might find strange, even funny, at times.
The Cyber Cold War
As it stands today, nation-states will apparently fight the wars of the future not with laser beams and flying ships, but malware, DDoS, and phishing, among others.
WatchGuard Technologies released a set of videos detailing their predictions on this year’s probable cyber threats and named the ‘Cyber Cold War’ as one of them. They say Russia, China, and the United States have already begun attacking (and defending from) each other on the digital realm.
The cyber world’s weapon of mass destruction, the digital atom bomb will then be the zero-day vulnerability. A threat that governments do not know, and therefore, cannot counter. With the rise of cyber attacks on public institutions, it is hard not to believe in WatchGuard’s predictions.
A full-day Internet blackout throughout the nation
In the USA Network series Mr. Robot, which many reviewers regard as the best portrayal yet of hacking techniques in television, there’s a fictional example of this threat.
The protagonist (a hacker) and his friends manage to infiltrate a multinational company’s network and erase all consumer debt, creating an economic blackout. Users should remember Dyn’s DDoS attack, which shut down many websites around the world for a few hours and multiply it by a thousand.
What would happen is this became a reality? Well, according to writers at Dark Reading, financial markets would plummet. Moreover, with more and more companies relying on cloud technologies to conduct business, they might have a point.
The advent of ‘Ransomworms’
If ransomware was the big threat in 2016, ransomworms would be the one for 2017. They are a concept brought up by WatchGuard, and concern the recent malware and an old friend and predecessor, the ‘worm’ type of virus.
Previous ransomware attacks worked by affecting a group of computers that could help them shut down a network, just like it happened earlier on the San Francisco Metro Rail. They can also enter a single computer and wreak havoc like it happened to an Austrian hotel a few weeks ago.
‘Worm’ viruses replicate themselves to infect other computers once they find their way into a network. By working together, they could help ransomware spread to thousands of machines in less than an hour.
Your car might try to kill you
This is one of our predictions, based on concerns regarding IoT. Most of GovTech’s contributors named this field as one of the most vulnerable. Smart devices do not have the same cyber security standards as computers and smartphones.
In fact, hackers carried out the KrebsOnSecurity DDoS (one of the largest in history) with the help of internet-connected printers and other devices. What happens when the threat of hacking expands to the the deepest corners of the Internet of Things?
Last year, a group of Chinese cyber security researchers discovered and exploited a flaw in a Tesla vehicle, which allowed them to control it remotely. They notified Tesla, which fixed the software accordingly.
However, what would happen if a hacker got a hold of another exploit and attempted to kill a person by hacking their car? They could force the vehicle to change lanes or brake at high speeds, for example.
Nothing will change
Dan Lacey, from WhiteHat Security, states that nothing will change. Ransomware will keep being ransomware, hackers will continue to expand their reaches, and companies will create newer defenses.
Lacey’s statement is a very crazy theory when put into perspective. Bigger technological improvements usually mean greater threats, which is what happened in 2016, precisely.
However, Lacey might have a point. It takes time for cyber threats to appear because it takes time for newer technologies to become mainstream. However, if the previous theories do not suddenly become a reality, that does not mean users (and institutions) should lower their guard.