Cybersecurity Trends 2020: Technology is getting smarter. Are we?

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Each year, ESET security experts take the time to look back at the previous year and predict what the year ahead may bring in the area of cybersecurity and privacy.

This year that effort has produced ESET’s new report, Cybersecurity Trends 2020: Technology is Getting Smarter – Are We? This paper takes a look at five timely topics in the digital world, and gives insights and advice for the coming year.

Trend #1 – Election interference
”20/20” refers to perfect vision, but 2020 might just be another blurry year for the democratic process. What may stand in the way of our making informed decisions supported by facts?

Election security has been a popular topic of conversation in the wake of the 2016 US election, as well as the Brexit vote in the UK. As another US presidential election season dawns, this topic is grabbing headlines again. Tony Anscombe discusses several methods that may be used by individuals, activist groups, nation-states and even cybercriminals as they attempt to interfere with the world’s democratic processes for their own gain.

Trend #2 – Advances in machine learning
Advances in machine learning have brought considerable benefits to cybersecurity defenders, but the potential of the technology isn’t lost on those who are looking to co-opt it for unsavory ends.

Machine learning powers many services we’ve come to depend on in our daily life. And with great power comes great potential for mayhem and destruction. As we’re already seeing with deepfakes and facial recognition technology, these technologies can be used to sow skepticism and create unfair biases. As Jake Moore describes, machine learning-driven attacks will also be able to learn what worked and what didn’t work on the fly and retrain themselves to bypass existing defenses.

Trend #3 – Turning the tide towards privacy
Trust in our shared digital environment hasn’t had a good run lately, and more and more people are on edge about safeguarding their digital data. What has been done and, even more importantly, what remains to be done for the tide to turn?

Privacy by Design is a framework that’s been around for a while, but those designing new products or services are not yet commonly using it. Developments in online advertising technology are increasingly targeted and manipulative, which is increasing consumer distrust.

The most common authentication technique—usernames and passwords—is so weak that it’s contributing to the pervading sense of distrust in our connected world. Upcoming legislation may increase the consequences for companies that abuse our trust or neglect their duty to protect our data.

Trend #4 – Smart cities and the Internet of Things
With more and more cities adopting smart technology that changes the way municipalities manage their basic operations and services, what do these developments mean for the security side of things?

The Internet of Things has provided a wealth of tools to help automate regular daily activities. But as few of these devices have been designed with privacy or security in mind, they’ve also provided an easily accessible and powerful tool for attackers to access networks. Cecilia Pastorino examines how connected devices are finding more and more significant usage in “smart” buildings and cities.

Trend #5 – Securing digital transformation
As organizations set out on, or continue down, the path of digital transformation, they have to rethink all aspects of their operations. How can they reap the benefits of going digital without getting derailed along the way by failing to address underlying cybersecurity challenges?

So many of the businesses, services and products we interact with are now connected, there is an expectation that everyone will get on this bandwagon – whether they’re truly ready to or not. Camilo Gutiérrez talks about how security and privacy need to be included in this transition from the outset, and how it’s not just data and devices that must be considered—but people and processes, too.

Access the complete trends report here, or watch our webinar with ESET North America security researchers discussing these trends and how organizations can prepare.