As we move to an intrinsically networked world, the possibility of witnessing terrorists using cyber warfare is growing every day. The question isn't "if"- it's "when". While such an attack may not result in lives being lost, the economic impact may be immense and create a variety of long-term consequences.
The importance of research
One of the principal areas of security research today deals with emerging risks. The motivation is simple - you want to prepare for the future and try to stay one step ahead of the attackers by anticipating what lies ahead. As the learning process improves your knowledge of the problem, you develop a culture of security and that's exactly what every organization should invest into.
By collecting a vast amount of information and applying the correct analysis metrics we can at least in some way anticipate what will drive future threats. We have to take into consideration the development of communication technologies, the evolution of hardware as well as other factors such as online services, the size of devices we use, smartphones, and more.
We live in a world where Web 2.0 applications are gaining momentum. As the Internet user-base grows we can easily foresee a massive adoption of online services. Mobile phones are becoming more complex and able to perform a variety of tasks. With a generation of users that's doing things "on the go" right now, we're bound to see many more services on mobile devices in the future. All of these things have to be taken into consideration when trying to imagine the future.
Mikko H. Hyppönen, the Chief Research Officer at F-Secure, portrayed a dark picture of today's online world as he talked about gangs, terrorism, espionage, the hacker economy and how computer crime is the fastest growing segment of the IT industry. Cyber thieves these days deal freely with credit card numbers, keyloggers, worms and Trojans. The Internet's dark side is thriving and there's a lot of money to be made. Unfortunately, the police is not doing much so the threat scenario keeps getting worse.
While today's issues such as phishing, identity theft and spam already pose a significant problem, the future will bring forward problems we still don't think about. Imagine an attacker breaching the security of your networked home and changing the settings on your alarm or the stove. Imagine a proliferation of nasty malware on Bluetooth and GSM networks. If you work in the information security world, I'm sure you can imagine a lot of dangerous complications.
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