Cyber-Terrorism Set to Be Top Threat by 2020

Nation-state–led cyber-terrorism will be a top threat by 2020 – and every organization should prepare.

That’s the word from the Information Security Forum (ISF)’s latest Threat Horizon 2020 report, which postulates that terrorist groups, organized criminals, hacktivists and hackers working in various collaborations and configurations to increasingly weaponize the cyber-domain, launching attacks on critical national infrastructure that cause widespread destruction and chaos. Further, their activities will take no account of land barriers or legislation.

With power, communications and logistics systems down, organisations will lose the basic building blocks needed for doing business; heating, air conditioning, lighting, transport, information, communication and a safe working environment will no longer be taken for granted.

“Over the next two years, business leaders will face regular and complex decisions about protecting their critical information and systems. Existing solutions that have been relied upon for years will be exposed as inadequate,” said Steve Durbin, managing director, ISF. “Only organizations that understand this rapidly changing and complex environment will remain firm and unshakable. Those that are unprepared and incapable of responding quickly will crumble as they defend against an onslaught of potent, day-to-day cyber-attacks.”

Aside from the doomsday-like prediction, the report also predicts that technology will outpace controls. Capabilities that seemed impossible only a short time ago will develop extremely quickly, aiding those who see them coming and hindering those who don’t. Developments in smart technology will create new possibilities for organizations of all kinds – but they will also create opportunities for attackers and adversaries by reducing the effectiveness of existing controls. Previously well-protected information will become vulnerable.

Also, according to the ISF, pressure will skew judgement. Existing controls and methods of managing information risk will be put under severe stress by an avalanche of new technologies, regulations and pressures on employees. Organizations that have a good record of securing information will be at risk of complacency, judging that the way they have always done things will continue to work in the future – a dangerous attitude to take.
“Over the coming years, the very foundations of today’s digital world will shake – violently,” Durbin said. Innovative and determined attackers, along with seismic changes to the way organizations conduct their operations, will combine to threaten even the strongest establishments. Only those with robust preparations will stand tall.”



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