On the Third Day of Christmas, the Industry Predicted…More Political Disruption

The festive season is upon us and Christmas is approaching fast! Soon, many of us will be able to enjoy a few hard-earned days off as we tuck into our turkeys, pull open a cracker and, perhaps, have one glass of sherry too many as we indulge in the holiday spirit.

With Christmas also comes the turn of a new year; a chance to raise a glass to new beginnings, leave bad memories from the previous 12 months behind and look forward to a healthy, prosperous future.

However, if there’s one thing we know about the cyber world, it’s that threats and risks refuse to take a break, and what’s more, they will always continue to evolve, adapt and change. Therefore, as people start to think about resolutions and fresh starts, it’s important the cybersecurity community also turns it thoughts to the future as it looks to prepare itself for what’s ahead. 

So, with 2016 drawing to a close, what are the experts predicting about what we can expect to face in 2017?

Specialists from Mimecast have warned that nation states and their sponsored operatives will use cyber espionage more and more next year to cause political shifts, disruption and to gain economic advantage.

“This will involve, but will not be limited to, email hacking and disclosure of other forms of intercepted private communications, disruption of and interference with critical national infrastructures,” explained Peter Bauer, CEO and co-founder, Mimecast.

It’s no secret that 2016 was the year that nation state cyber-threats surrounding the political voting process were brought to light more than ever before, with several purposed ‘Russian-backed’ attacks making the news across the globe in the lead up to the US presidential election.

Matthew Gardiner, Mimecast’s cybersecurity strategist, argues that nation state sponsored attacks are just a fact of life now, and we should assume they are part of every country’s play book, just like traditional spying has been a part of most standard operations for centuries.

“The digital world is really the perfect venue for this as one can do it secretly and if you get caught you just deny it and no arrests are ever made, and to boot, it is much cheaper to conduct cyber espionage than using other traditional methods,” he told Infosecurity. “Now that the methods have matured it has proven to work in the military domain, so it only makes logical sense to extend that to trying to impact the politics of your adversaries.”

As Avi Chesla, CEO and founder of empow, pointed out, it’s clear the powers that be are going to be kept very busy in 2017 as they look to tackle this issue. 

“In the past, companies that oversee voting systems and venues were traditionally more focused on aspects of physical security, such as ensuring the integrity of the voter registration process and the confidentiality of the vote. From now on, they will need to invest much more in cybersecurity. Governments will need to effectively enforce this through legislation that defines these organizations as something akin to ‘critical infrastructure’. Governments will also need to be involved more directly in supervising voting, facilitating international collaboration and implementing proactive defense measures based on their experience and threat intelligence they are receiving.”

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