By Brian NeSmith, CEO and co-founder of Arctic Wolf Networks
Over half of the population claims to regularly see fake news on sites such as Facebook or Twitter. Yet, despite fake news being more commonplace than one would think, social media companies have been highly ineffective in doing anything — except around the most egregious events. Next year, this trend will increase substantially, especially as our nation gears up for the 2020 elections.
The most notable example of hackers leveraging fake news was when Russian agents used misinformation campaigns, including 3,500 divisive Facebook ads, to allegedly influence the 2016 U.S. elections (CNBC). Such instances have made it clear to malicious actors that it is just as impactful to influence an election by stirring the pot as it is to directly attack voting machines. As we continue to see more instances in which false campaigns on social media impact our nation, we will begin to see more regulation of social media, especially around key, controversial topics.
The Ugly Truth About A Past Presidential Election Will Emerge
In 2019, it’s likely that evidence will emerge of tampering in a past presidential election, confirming the impact that foreign nationals have had on the U.S.’s democratic process. As such, we can expect to see the federal government, as well as state and local governments, in the “hot seat,” as citizens look to officials to take action and ensure the 2020 elections are secure. Making the real question: how will they respond? In the private sector, we are starting to see the C-Suite held responsible for their organization being attacked. Will the same stand true for government entities that aren’t taking proper steps to fix the security vulnerabilities within the voting process? These are questions we will see answered leading up to the 2020 elections.
False Attribution Leads to a Low Level Cyber War
The potential that cyber attacks provide for state-sponsored groups to attack through covert operations, potentially to even mislead and cause false attribution of an attack, lends itself to a whole new kind of warfare. This is multi-dimensional chess. In 2019, we will begin to see a transition to combat leveraging cyber tactics to take out pieces of a country’s infrastructure, instead of dropping bombs. We saw this in 2016 when Russia turned off the electricity to hundreds of thousands in Ukraine, but this was merely a test run. Next year, we will see an increase in these types of attacks between major nations, and we will see a falsely attributed attack cause extreme disruption in our ecosystem.
Small Organizations Will Finally Take an Enterprise Approach to Cybersecurity
Small organizations are finally realizing that they need to be as prepared as large organizations when it comes to cybersecurity, making it no longer an IT problem but a larger business challenge within every organization. Additionally, we will see small businesses’ approach to cybersecurity impacting larger organizations through the supply chain vector. Hackers will take advantage of smaller organizations, which often fuel larger business’ supply chains, because they typically have security vulnerabilities that can be more readily exploited than larger “targeted” companies. With this in mind, in 2019 we will see the C-Suite become more involved in cybersecurity, not only when it comes to making decisions about tools to leverage, but also taking the brunt of repercussions.