It has become something of a truism to say that the pace of change in technology keeps on accelerating. But knowing that high-speed technological development is now a given doesn’t alter the real-life challenges organisations face in adapting to it.
One of the areas where businesses are put under most pressure by the adoption of new technologies is cybersecurity. Every innovation in technology, be it a new networking protocol, a new approach to building software platforms, new forms of automation or new ways to glean valuable business information from data, opens up opportunities for enterprises.
But hackers and cybercriminals are ready to jump all over these same opportunities to exploit them to their own advantage. What creates the real problems for the business world is that they are often very quick in doing so.
However, not all emerging technologies create bigger cybersecurity headaches – some promise to be very beneficial in keeping organisation’s digital systems and data assets safe. Here are three of the biggest new technologies likely to shape the world of business over the course of the next decade, and what impact we can expect them to have on cybersecurity.
Another decade, another generation of mobile technology – and one which promises such an uplift in cellular data capacity and speeds that, come 2030, wired internet connections could be a thing of the past. However, there are no shortages of reasons why cybersecurity experts are getting jittery about the implications of 5G. These include the fact that 5G is expected to trigger a significant uplift in the number of connected devices, especially through the growth of IoT. With millions if not billions of new devices to protect, the challenge of stopping hackers intercepting data via Man-in-the-Middle attacks will increase significantly. At the same time, the unique nature of how information is communicated across mobile networks allows criminals to achieve similar ends using so-called Mobile Network Mapping (MNmap).
In more general terms, it is also argued that the switch to completely virtualized, software-defined networking protocols with 5G will make mobile networks themselves more vulnerable than previous generations that relied on physical switches and appliances. Put simply, by running distributed networks using IP protocol, you are literally speaking the language of hackers and removing any geographical barriers to launching attacks.
As the increasing complexity of the digital landscape makes the battle against cybercrime more and more challenging, AI is becoming an ever more important tool for cybersecurity professionals. With so many potential attack vectors to protect, AI provides the crucial benefits of speed and accuracy in automating detection and deterrent. Put simply, it would be next to impossible for manual systems to keep up with the sophistication of today’s cybercrime landscape. AI is a vital and necessary cybersecurity tool because of its ability to identify anomalies in massive data sets at speed, identify the cause and, if it signals a threat, trigger appropriate action.
However, the flipside is that hackers have also latched onto the advantages of AI, and are now using it for their own ends. Machine Learning, for example, has been used in spoofing attacks where a malicious agent impersonates a user or device on a system in order to gain access to it. By using AI to learn and then mimic the behaviours of actual users, hackers can blend into the background more effectively, making it much harder for security systems to spot.
Looking forward, it seems entirely likely that cybersecurity will increasingly be played out as AI versus AI.
Finally, an emerging technology that is widely heralded as very much a positive from a cybersecurity perspective. Blockchain is best known as the software platform on which Bitcoin (and subsequent generations of cybercurrency) is based. But what has really excited the tech community about Blockchain is the fact, thanks to an ingenious combination of cryptography and peer-to-peer networking approaches, it creates a ledger system that is virtually impossible to alter, forge, hack or otherwise interfere with.
As a result, there is a growing school of thought that, if you have data you want to keep secure, you put it in a Blockchain. There are numerous potential uses, from ultra-secure communications to providing bullet-proof encryption for data moving about across distributed IoT and Edge networks. NASA is an early adopter of Blockchain as a cybersecu, creating a Blockchain-based prototype for a brand new air traffic location data system.