Could 2014 be the Year of Cyber Insecurity?

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As the year changes a lot of people look forward to the future and at how things will be changing for the better this coming year. Kaspersky Lab, an online security company, doesn’t see the future as quite so rosy though. The company released a list of cyber security problems for both businesses and users in 2014, including threats for mobile users and cyber-mercenaries.

The first two problems are worries primarily for the users. For years, Trojan viruses and other ransomware have been locking up computers, and the data is held ransom until the user pays up. Kaspersky asserts that this will expand to mobile, most likely to Android first, likely because its a more open system. What’s more, the ransomware could be distributed hidden inside sanctioned apps within official stores.

Another growing trend is Bitcoin theft. As the currency gains more ground, it’s been drawing a lot of attention to itself. Because of its unregulated nature, and the anonymity of its users, the currency is ripe for the picking when it comes to theft. It’s hard to trace by nature, so if it’s stolen there’s little to be done about it.

Privacy also made Kaspersky’s list. Users may start to select among competing services by how effective their privacy and encryption tools are: “Implementing more sophisticated protection measures will continue, and is likely to become a key factor when users choose between rival web services.”

These are small changes compared to some of the developments Kaspersky sees on the horizon. Cloud storage may have been a buzzword for a while, but now it’s big business and many services rely on it. “Hackers are targeting cloud service employees, seeing them as the weakest link in the security chain,” the report says. With massive amounts of sensitive data stored in the cloud, hacking into a cloud service could be very lucrative — and very dangerous.

As fanciful as it may sound, cyber mercenaries are already in operation. Kaspersky found a hit and run hacking operation called Icefog with small groups copying data from government institutions and military contractors. Kaspersky doesn’t state if this was government sponsored, or motivated by corporate espionage, but it doesn’t bode well for the future of digital security.

The biggest threat Kaspersky sees is the possibility of more governments nationalizing, and possibly isolating their respective internet services. “Germany announced that all communications between the German authorities would be fully locked within the country. Brazil has announced its plans to build an alternative Internet channel,” the report says.

If networks are locked in this way, much like China’s “Great Firewall,” internet openness could perish, undermining one of our most democratic communication tools.

Image credit: dddaag

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