Lethal smart device hack possible, nastier online blackmail in 2016: Trend Micro

Trend Micro's cybersecurity predictions for 2016 foresees events ranging from a smart device hack that leads to fatality to more personalized ransomware attacks.
Trend Micro's cybersecurity predictions for 2016 foresees events ranging from a smart device hack that leads to fatality to more personalized ransomware attacks.

A potentially fatal hack of a smart device, a change in tactics for ransomware attacks, and more destructive hacktivist attacks will be in the mix, according to the good folks at Trend Micro who are not waiting until the end of December to issue their cybersecurity predictions for 2016.

The team, led by Trend Micro Chief Technology Officer Raimund Genes, came up with seven thoughts on what they see as 2016's big cyber issues.

The rise - and hacking of - smart, connected devices in 2015 may well culminate in the death of an unlucky individual was the biggest bombshell dropped by the group. Genes and his team did not point at a hack as the primary cause of the potential fatality, but suggested that with millions of such devices in the public domain it is only a matter of time before a cyber attack takes a life.

“As more drones encroach on public air space for various missions, more devices are used for healthcare-related services, and more home and business appliances rely on an Internet connection to operate, the more likely we will see an incident involving a device malfunction, a hack, or a misuse that will trigger conversation on creating regulations on device production and usage,” the report stated.

Far less physically dangerous than rogue drones, but much more likely to occur, are increased cases of online extortion performed though ransomware. While blackmailers have already fine tuned the technological aspects behind such attacks, Trend Mirco sees improvements in personalizing such attacks using social engineering tricks thus making it more likely that a person or business will pay up and not risk having their personal information released.

Hacktivists will take their game to another level, Trend Micro predicted, with more groups attempting and pulling off attacks aimed at destroying corporate reputations, in the mode of the Sony and Ashley Madison.

“In the past, the hacktivist's playbook primarily consisted of default tactics like web defacement and DDoS attacks to disrupt targets. However, the recent success of high-impact breaches, driven by a common goal of exposing incriminating information like questionable corporate practices, classified messages, and suspicious transactions will drive cybercriminals to add data breach methods to their arsenal of tactics,” the report said.

Other developments Genes and Trend for the coming year include:

·         The growth of ad blocking leading to the death of malvertising.

·         The increased adoption of cybercrime legislation and the beginning of it becoming a global movement.

·         20 million pieces of mobile malware will flood the Chinese market due to the availability of third-party platforms and channels that offer free app downloads.

·          Despite these growing threats, Trend Micro believes half of all organizations will still not bother hiring a data protection officer.

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