In the advent of the new year, it is important to both reflect on the previous year and discuss what’s ahead in 2016. For starters, 2015 was a landmark year when it came to cybersecurity. U.S. government agencies were hacked along with almost every industry in our country: retail, finance, travel, healthcare, tech and countless others. In the largest known U.S. government data breach in our history, 22 million government employees’ personal information was stolen in the breach of the Office of Personnel Management.
The healthcare industry also saw one of its worst years in cybersecurity with well over 100 million Americans having their personal health information stolen in cyber-attacks such as the Anthem data breach in February 2015. However, in the political spectrum, we did see some success. After many attempts to pass an information-sharing cyber bill, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Legislation (CISA) was included in the far-reaching omnibus spending bill. This monumental bill encourages companies to share data breach information with competitors and the government while protecting companies from irrelevant lawsuits. This is an effort to increase hack detection and prevention.
Additionally, President Obama worked with Chinese President Xi Jinping in striking a deal prohibiting both countries from cyber theft of intellectual property. As we enter the new year, we must move forward with confidence without forgetting to learn from our past.
So, what should we expect in 2016? Unfortunately, cyber experts predict more attacks with larger disruptions. We are likely to see an increase in distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks and Ransomware. Cyber Criminals will also likely begin to target the ever-increasing Internet of Things which expands all the way from the new Hello Barbie Doll to self-driving cars. Experts also predict that 2016 will be the “the year of online extortion” with cyber extortionists developing new ways to target their victims. Furthermore, one recent report claims that three out of every four apps in China contain malware which can target mobile payment methods. On the other side of the hacking spectrum, Hacktivist groups such as Anonymous – which recently declared war on ISIS – are expected to cripple their targets unlike ever before.
With the upcoming presidential election, we will surely see an increase of awareness in cybersecurity as the candidates will surely begin debating on this controversial issue in due time. In Congress, one can expect to see more “concrete changes” in efforts to fight cybercrime. The U.S. government will attempt to be more responsive to cyber offenses and increased information-sharing will hopefully halt cyber-attacks before they occur. More companies are also expected to buy cyber insurance but, with premiums rising and cybersecurity restrictions certain to rise, it may become more difficult for companies to purchase these policies. Nevertheless, we will certainly be hearing more of cyber in the new year. Stay tuned to see what’s next in 2016.