Claims of meddling and manipulation in election processes to continue in 2020, says ESET

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BRATISLAVA - With the US presidential election set to capture the world’s attention in 2020, claims of election meddling and manipulation are guaranteed in the coming year, according to ESET’s latest trends report. Along with poll manipulation, Cybersecurity Trends 2020: Technology is getting smarter – are we? explores the predictions of experts from the global cybersecurity firm, revealing the key challenges expected to impact consumers and businesses in 2020.

Trend #1: The fog of fake news thickens

The term “fake news” rose to prominence due to the outcry surrounding the manipulation of information and data in the 2016 US election, and there is no doubt that this will be a topic of controversy again in light of the 2020 campaign. While Facebook was fined US $5 billion this year for its role in the Cambridge Analytica scandal, for ESET Global Security Evangelist Tony Anscombe, the weaponization of information shows no signs of stopping in 2020.

Anscombe points out, “Be it disinformation or propaganda, the weaponization of information is set to continue.” He added, “We continually witness mass data breaches and system compromises in companies and government departments, so why would voting technology or processes be exempt from similar attacks?”

Trend #2: Machine learning: Creating security or attacking it?

While self-sustainable AI is still a long way off, machine learning (ML) is making headway as one of the most exciting technological developments in history. Although this presents exciting possibilities for the cybersecurity industry, cybercriminals will also be making use of ML to increase the scale and complexity of their attacks.

One technique that utilizes ML is deepfakes, and Jake Moore, ESET Security Specialist, predicts that 2019 will see an increase in cybercriminals’ use of the technology. “Deepfakes are increasing in quality at an impressive rate,” he writes, “The future could see this technology become commonplace to damage public figures by making them appear to say whatever the creator wants.” People will need to learn to treat even the most realistic videos they see with a dash of scepticism.

Trend #3: Data privacy: Time for a sea change

While we’ve seen quite a few countries pass or implement new or expanded breach notification laws in 2019, the sense of distrust surrounding the use of personal data has remained omnipresent. In the view of Lysa Myers, ESET Senior Security Researcher, until privacy violation fines begin to dock a greater percentage of mega-corporations’ income, this problem will not go away.

Lysa echoes the view of the International Association of Privacy Professionals, which has advised companies to retain full functionality whilst respecting privacy. “Businesses that manage to accomplish this feat are likely to have a significant advantage in the marketplace,” she states. Lysa also points out the waning trust in usernames and passwords, with a need for organizations to develop their use of multifactor authentication.

Trend #4: Smart and insecure cities?

Smart cities and smart buildings are the wave of the future as technology becomes increasingly embedded in our everyday lives. More than 80 percent of new buildings incorporate at least some elements of IoT, however, experts have expressed concerns that smart cities are experiencing rapid growth but our ability to make them secure is not keeping up.

Many smart devices and systems do not have strong authentication protocols or are not protected by any type of security solution at all. For ESET Security Researcher Cecilia Pastorino, malware attacks on smart cities are a pertinent issue. Cecilia explains, “Although the systems used by smart buildings and cities do not browse the web or open email, they still need to protect themselves against malware.”

Trend #5: Digital transformation

Companies needing to adapt to an increasingly digitized world is not a new phenomenon, yet one particular trend attached to digital transformation that is threatening organizations is the growth of employee mobility.

ESET Senior Security Researcher Camilo Gutiérrez Amaya says, “Our ability to stay connected to networks, regardless of where we are, keeps increasing organizations’ attack surfaces and exposure to risk… companies’ ever-increasing speed of adoption of mobile technology often occurs without due consideration for security.”

“Over the coming months we will see organizations implement major changes in almost all areas of their businesses. The common thread running through all this will be how they handle information and the data involved in their operations,” he concludes.

For more on the trends set to impact the industry in 2020, read Cybersecurity Trends 2020: Technology is getting smarter – are we?