The Future of Cybersecurity

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The future of cybersecurity is now, with pressing cybersecurity trends making the news daily. As our world becomes increasingly connected by technology and the internet, the critical role that cybersecurity plays in defending our privacy, rights and even physical safety has become more vital than ever. We rely on technology to tackle issues on a personal and global scale. From asking Siri to schedule appointments, to online banking, curing cancer, confronting climate change and even flights to space, technology is woven into our days from start to finish. However, as we become further connected, the chances for those with impure motives to take advantage of this plethora of data increases. With the U.S. presidential election coming up in November, 2020 looks to be a year in which cybersecurity will be at the forefront of conversations, but the implications of cybersecurity will extend far beyond a national election.

Artificial Intelligence

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning are redefining nearly every aspect of cybersecurity as we know it, and they are essential to securing the digital perimeters of any business. According to Forbes, AI is the new arms race, but a race in which anyone can join.1 AI that can be utilized by the government to attack an enemy state can also be easily used by gangs and terrorist organizations. AI is a double-edged sword: While it can “learn” to see patterns and behaviors that indicate a cybersecurity attack, it can just as easily learn to camouflage the same behavior and stealthily slip past defenses. A survey performed by technology and consulting firm Capgemini, found that as digital businesses grew, their risk of cyberattacks grew as well. Insights from their study showed that 69 percent of enterprises believe that AI will be necessary to respond to cyberattacks.2 The duality of AI is a trend to watch in the coming years. While attacks ranging from phishing emails to denial-of-service attacks aimed to disable vital infrastructure are becoming more frequent and sophisticated, so are deep learning security algorithms and biometric identity protection.

Political Division and Interference

The flow of information and thoughts on the internet may seem absent of borders and restrictions, but this is an illusion. The corporations, networks and associations that provide the infrastructure are legal entities that are obligated to comply with national laws and regulations. With world superpowers stuck in a trade war and competing nations pursuing a tech-driven arms race, the illusion that the internet is an international entity is cracking. Experts are concerned by authoritarian countries' use of state internet to control what their citizens search for and see. Restrictions like these will likely impact international collaboration on the technological and regulatory challenges of cybersecurity, which will only benefit hackers, terrorist organizations and criminal gangs.

Cybersecurity will likely take center stage politically, with the upcoming 2020 presidential election. Cybercrime targeting elections has taken two forms thus far: the spread of "fake news" and direct attacks on candidates or the digital electoral foundation. Countering "fake news" has required creating manual and automated systems to sift through lies, propaganda and ad hominem attacks. These systems analyze where the information came from and who may have created it. "Fake news" cybercrimes, attacks on candidates' email servers and state-run social media posts pushing false narratives are a growing problem as they've proven to be highly effective. Those in the cybersecurity field should expect to see more investment in these areas this year, as well as a push to raise public awareness of these issues.

Data Theft Through Vehicle Hacking and the Internet of Things

We share a great deal with the AI interfaces that "live" in our homes and pockets. It's incredibly handy to ask Siri to schedule appointments and give her the exact details, provide credit card information on your phone, ask Alexa to purchase things for us, or to have a Nest thermometer learn your schedule and adjust automatically. However, most of the home networks supporting these devices lack high-level cybersecurity or the appliances themselves don't possess two-factor authentication capabilities. They can access personal information such as schedules, addresses, credit card information, travel plan, email accounts or cloud services where this type of information is stored. Harvesting and reselling this data en masse on the black market is highly profitable for cybercriminals.

We are swiftly approaching the era of self-driving cars, which should be an exciting thing. The Hyundai Sonata, for example, has "Smart Park" allowing the car to park and unpark itself without even having a driver in the car. But an astonishing amount of data is stored in our cars nowadays. With GPS devices, sensors to alert if a vehicle is in your blind spot, rear cameras for parking, and in-car communication and entertainment platforms, cars are becoming a lucrative mark for hackers and data thieves. In the same way that criminals have learned to hack into private networks through smart devices, cars are likely to become the next choice thanks to the increasing amount of information they collect and store. Another genuine but slightly distant danger is the ability to hack into a car's controls. Hijacking an autonomous car and overtaking the digital controls and safety features is a looming threat automakers and lawmakers will both need to take seriously and address.

An Increasing Skills Gap

According to the New York Times, by 2021, there will be an estimated 3.5 million cybersecurity jobs available but unfilled.3 This is a frightening prospect when you consider that things like power grids, water pumps, cars and many everyday devices are all online. And nearly everything is vulnerable to a cyberattack. The threats we face today will continue to intensify until there are enough skilled professionals to thwart them. Nearly every industry stands to lose money to cyberattacks, though the Capgemini study found that the telecom industry had the highest reported incidence of losses exceeding $50 million.2 The average cost incurred by a U.S. company that falls victim to a data breach is $8.19 million. When companies employ fully automated cybersecurity defenses, that number drops to $2.6 million.4 Implementing these sophisticated defenses requires a skilled and experienced cybersecurity workforce.

Meet the Growing Need

As the threats facing our national and personal safety continue to grow, our workforce of cybersecurity experts needs to grow at a faster pace. If you’d like to enter the cybersecurity field, or would like to improve your cybersecurity skills and knowledge, consider beginning with expert-driven skills-based education in the field. Register for an online cybersecurity course from EmergingEd now, and start developing your competitive edge.


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