Predictions for Corporate Data in 2017: The Endpoint is Everywhere

By: Absolute Editorial Team | 12/22/2016

As 2016 nears the end, it would be satisfying to gaze back on all the successes that organizations have had in combatting the rising tide of data risks. Sadly, that tide keeps on rising. Data breaches in 2016 are already up 31% over 2015 figures, breaching over 35 million records, a figure set to rise to 1.35 billion breached records with the news of the massive breach at Yahoo. Indeed, we close out 2016 with the biggest data breach in history, although it took 3 years to even find it.

At the end of 2015, we predicted that the attack surface would continue to expand, that Shadow IT would grow, and that people would continue to remain the top source for breaches. Our predictions have held true. Although we also predicted the increased involvement of C-Suite executives and the use of security intelligence, these changes have been gradual and have yet to make a dent in this continued rising tide of security issues.

The data security landscape continues to change and become more complex. In 2015, we talked a great deal about protecting data on the endpoint. Now, that conversation alone is shifting. In 2016, we recognize that the traditional endpoint is only part of the growing attack surface, complicated by the growing use of highly insecure Internet of Things (IoT) devices and amplified by the use of the Cloud. The endpoint is now an access point to corporate data in the Cloud, as well as on the corporate network and the device itself.

Gazing into 2017, all will be set to change again. Absolute’s Richard Henderson had a chance to contribute to an SC Magazine Series on ‘Gazing Ahead: Security Predictions,’ passing along his top 5 predictions for the year ahead.

Top 5 Security Predictions for 2017

  1. Household devices will be the source of a major breach - IoT devices are very vulnerable to exploits, a problem we expect to come to the forefront with a massive breach associated with an infected or compromised device unknown to IT teams monitoring the network
  2. Enterprises will ban IoT devices on the company network - although banning technology outright is never a sufficient long-term solution, the current lack of security architecture built into IoT devices, as well as options from third-party providers, will likely lead to an outright ban on IoT devices
  3. Imposter apps will feed data brokers - these “me-too” apps, while not new, are growing quickly, sources of adware and spyware, particularly prevalent in the Android world. All that information on your device? Imposter apps can syphon it back out to data brokers.
  4. A stolen device will uncover a major political scandal - 2016 saw a lot of controversy around political email scandals, from hacked servers to leaked files, and we expect that this has likely drawn the interest of cybercriminals to increase their attempts to infiltrate political infrastructure. While a great deal of attention is being paid to protecting the back-end, groups will likely forget to educate and secure endpoint devices being used by the politicians themselves, breaching all that email directly from the user.
  5. 2017 data breaches will dwarf 2016 - although data breaches such as the current Yahoo mega-breach will inflate breached figures in certain years, in raw figures, the number of data breaches has only increased year-to-year. We firmly believe 2017 will make 2016 pale in comparison, in large part from the adoption of cloud services, third-party processing of data, and the huge attack surface.

Data security is a major challenge right now. As Richard noted in his predictions, “defense is a seemingly herculean feat: defenders have to get it right 100 percent of the time. attackers? They only need to need to be right once.”

The solution is not straightforward. Education, clear policies, and layers of technology will provide a defense-in-depth strategy to combat as many threats as possible, with redundancies on high-risk areas such as the endpoint. As many reports have pointed out in 2016, security is not a “set it and forget it” situation, but rather a process that requires continual upgrades and monitoring. Automating as much as possible and simplifying your oversight will be key to ensuring your data security program remains manageable.

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