Every year around this time, experts dust off their crystal balls and tell us what to expect in the coming year. Their forecasts flood tech websites from early November until January.
Which can be both useful and entertaining. But they can also be tricky — not every year plays out as expected. Sometimes the late, great Yogi Berra’s homespun wisdom prevails: “Predictions are hard, especially about the future.”
Especially about this year.
Indeed. I spent several hours combing through November 2019’s avalanche of 2020 cybersecurity prediction pitches from industry experts, and as you might guess, not a single one mentioned the biggest, most consequential event of the year — that the nation would be in the grip of a pandemic by March, with lockdowns of varying severity continuing to today and beyond.
Not one predicted that after the RSA conference in late February, every other security conference of the year would either be canceled or go virtual, since gatherings of more than a few dozen people indoors were forbidden. Not one predicted that WFH would become the most common acronym of the year, given that the large majority of workers who still had a job would be doing it from home for months on end, while their kids tried to adjust to remote learning.
Not one predicted that the travel budget of most security vendors (and just about every other company) would plunge to something close to zero. But of course, who could have imagined, let alone predicted, any of that? Sometimes the unexpected upends everything. There’s a reason the cliché refers to “20/20 hindsight” rather than foresight.
WHICH 2020 CYBERSECURITY PREDICTIONS FELL SHORT?
Some declared that the “ransomware window” would be closing in 2020. In reality, ZDNet was just one of multiple outlets reporting in the last couple of months that ransomware attacks have not only increased seven-fold since last year, but that they are evolving.
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THINKING OF JOINING CLUBHOUSE? THE MEMBERSHIP FEE COULD BE YOUR PRIVACY
With leading media and business influencers such as Oprah Winfrey, Kanye West, Drake and Elon Musk enthusing about Clubhouse, the invitation-only ‘drop-in audio’ app has created massive awareness and interest globally, even though it’s still in beta mode. It claims to have 10 million users, up from 2 million in January 2021, and its US$1 billion valuation makes it a tech unicorn ranking alongside the likes of Uber and AirBnb.
WHAT SHOULD YOU KNOW ABOUT CLOUD SECURITY SOLUTIONS?
First, let’s explain exactly what the cloud is, and how it relates to digital security. Intuitively, some people believe that “cloud” storage means your data is being held in the air somehow, but this isn’t really the case. Instead, most cloud applications store data on physical servers, in datacentres around the globe. Your data is stored remotely, and provided to you upon request.
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If your PC is ever locked by ransomware, paying up won’t necessarily release your files; in fact, we recommend that you never hand over cash to these scammers.
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Nation-states around the globe are well aware that their foes are one extended power outage, ransomware crisis, or data dump away from chaos.
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What's The Best Way To Prevent Ransomware Attacks?
Experts across the board agree: The best way to prevent ransomware attacks is to take a multi-layered approach. Since the first phase in a ransomware attack almost always involves social engineering, employee cyber security training is a good place to start. But if attackers get in, you’ll need to be able to recover from an attack. Make regular offline backups (and practice restoring them) so you can get back to business quickly.
Should You Pay Up?
Alexandra Cain investigates whether or not you should negotiate with criminals in a ransomware attack.
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You fire up your laptop and discover a sinister message: “We’ve encrypted your files! Pay us US$500 or we’ll destroy them all!”
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From ransomware to sextortion to the security of IoT devices, cyber security will continue to be a mainstream topic in 2016. Life-saving devices like pacemakers or insulin pumps can also get hacked.