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ISF: Crime-as-a-Service, Regulation Pose Top 2018 Threats

The Information Security Forum (ISF) has identified the top five global security threats that businesses will face in 2018: Crime-as-a-service (CaaS), the internet of things (IoT), supply chain risk, regulatory complexity and unmet board expectations.

In the coming year, the number of data breaches will grow along with the volume of compromised records, ISF predicts, becoming far more expensive for organizations of all sizes. Costs will come from traditional areas, such as network clean-up and customer notification, as well as newer areas such as litigation involving a growing number of parties.

Angry customers will pressure governments to introduce tighter data protection legislation, bringing new and unforeseen costs. The resulting mess of international regulations will create new compliance headaches for organizations while doing little to deter attackers. Not only will the number of data breaches grow, the scale of data breaches will also grow and individuals around the world will wearily expect their personal data to be compromised. In some cases, sophisticated defenses will be circumvented by persistent criminal organizations that swiftly exploit stolen data. The significant cost of the resulting cyber-crimes will rise steeply.

 “The scope and pace of information security threats is jeopardizing the veracity and reputation of today’s most reliable organizations,” said Steve Durbin, managing director of the ISF. “In 2018, we will see increased sophistication in the threat landscape with threats being personalized to their target’s weak spots or metamorphosing to take account of defenses that have already been put in place.”

The top five threats identified by the ISF for 2018 are not mutually exclusive and can combine to create even greater threat profiles. The most prevalent threats include:

CaaS Expands Tools and Services

ISF believes that criminal organizations will continue their ongoing development and become increasingly more sophisticated. The complex hierarchies, partnerships and collaborations that mimic large private sector organizations will facilitate their diversification into new markets and the commoditization of their activities at a global level. Some organizations will have roots in existing criminal structures, while others will emerge focused purely on cybercrime. Organizations will struggle to keep pace with this increased sophistication and the impact will extend worldwide, with cryptoware in particular becoming the leading malware of choice for its threat and impact value. The resulting cyber incidents in the coming year will be more persistent and damaging than organizations have experienced previously, leading to business disruption and loss of trust in existing security controls.

IoT Adds Unmanaged Risks

Organizations will adopt IoT devices with enthusiasm, not realizing that these devices are often insecure by design and therefore offer many opportunities for attackers. In addition, there will be an increasing lack of transparency in the rapidly-evolving IoT ecosystem, with vague terms and conditions that allow organizations to use personal data in ways customers did not intend. It will be problematic for organizations to know what information is leaving their networks or what data is being secretly captured and transmitted by devices such as smartphones and smart TVs. When breaches occur, or transparency violations are revealed, organizations will be held liable by regulators and customers for inadequate data protection. In a worst-case scenario, when IoT devices are embedded in industrial control systems, security compromises could result in harm to individuals or even loss of life.

Supply Chain Remains the Weakest Link in Risk Management

Supply chains are a vital component of every organization’s global business operations and the backbone of today’s global economy. However, security chiefs everywhere are concerned about how open they are to an abundance of risk factors. A range of valuable and sensitive information is often shared with suppliers and, when that information is shared, direct control is lost. This leads to an increased risk of its confidentiality, integrity or availability being compromised. In the coming year, ISF said that organizations must focus on the weakest spots in their supply chains. Not every security compromise can be prevented beforehand, but being proactive now means that you— and your suppliers—will be better able to react quickly and intelligently when something does happen. To address information risk in the supply chain, organizations should adopt strong, scalable and repeatable processes — obtaining assurance proportionate to the risk faced. Supply chain information risk management should be embedded within existing procurement and vendor management processes. This readiness may determine competitiveness, financial health, share price, or even business survival in the aftermath of a breach.

Regulation Adds to Complexity of Critical Asset Management

New regulations, such as the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), will add another layer of complexity to the issue of critical information asset management that many organizations are already struggling with. The GDPR aims to establish the same data protection levels for all EU residents and will focus on how organizations handle personal data. Businesses face several challenges in preparing for the reform, including a widespread lack of awareness among internal stakeholders. The additional resources required to address the obligations are likely to increase compliance and data management costs while pulling attention and investment away from other important initiatives. In the longer term, organizations will benefit from the uniformity introduced by the reform. But it is not just in the area of privacy where legislation will bite.  The increasing burden of compliance and legislative variances across jurisdictions will increase the burden for multi-nationals and those businesses targeting international trade.

 Unmet Board Expectations Exposed by Major Incidents

Boards will expect that their approval of increased information security budgets will have enabled the CISO and the information security function to produce immediate results. However, a fully secure organization is an unattainable goal, and many boards are unaware that making substantial improvements to information security will take time—even when the organization has the correct skills and capabilities. Consequently, the expectations of boards will quickly accelerate beyond their information security functions’ ability to deliver. Misalignment between a board’s expectations and the reality of the security function’s ability to deliver will be most cruelly exposed when a major incident occurs. Not only will the organization face substantial impact, the repercussions will also reflect badly on the individuals and collective reputations of the board members.

“These days, the stakes are higher than ever before,” Durbin said. “High-level corporate secrets and critical infrastructure are regularly under attack, and organizations of all sizes need to be aware of the significant trends that we forecast in the year to come.”

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