Kaspersky Lab has released its annual list of predictions for the coming year, with an increase in cyber crime among its forecast.
While 2013 was no doubt a landmark year for privacy campaigners, thanks largely to the revelations of US fugitive and activist Edward Snowden, who leaked thousands of classified documents to national newspapers across the world.
The National Security Agency (NSA) wires showed security chiefs regularly spied on the communications of millions of US citizens, as well as those from other areas of the world – including Germany and France.
Indeed, it was also shown that German chancellor Angela Merkel’s mobile phone was tapped by security agencies in the US – harming the North American nation’s relationship with the European economic powerhouse.
Kaspersky Lab predicts virtual private network (VPN) and dark-web tools that protect users’ identities will become more popular in the wake of mass government surveillance – although the extent to which this will be the case for normal netizens is unclear.
Cloud services will undoubtedly be in higher demand next year and the growth of platforms like Microsoft 365, Google Drive and Oracle Cloud has come as no surprise to industry analysts.
But Kaspersky Lab thinks this surge will come at a cost and hackers will heighten their attempts to breach virtualised data sources. Insight specialists at the firm believe cloud computing is often a weak link when it comes to encryption and this means sensitive documents could be leaked to the public, or sold to competitors.
The rapidly rising value of the bitcoin currency, which has tapered off somewhat in recent days, left industry experts dumbstruck.
While it had been expected that the monetary token would be relatively popular among internet enthusiasts, recognition from a number of central banks and economic analysts has meant the exchange rate has skyrocketed.
But, once again, with popularity comes increased pressure from cyber criminals and this means businesses investing in the currency must ensure they are properly protected against potential breaches that could cost them millions of pounds.
Alexander Gostev, chief security expert of the global research and analysis team at Kaspersky, said countries are starting to portion off their citizens’ access to the internet through more stringent regulations and laws.
“The internet has begun to break up into national segments. Snowden’s revelations have intensified the demand for rules prohibiting the use of foreign services. Individual countries are no longer willing to let a single byte of information out of their networks.
“These aspirations will grow ever stronger and legislative restrictions will inevitably transform into technical prohibitions. The next step will most likely be attempts to limit foreign access to data inside a country.
“As this trend develops further it may lead at some point to the collapse of the current internet, which will break into dozens of national networks.”
Whether Kaspersky Lab’s predictions about a disparate global internet will come true is still in doubt, but the need to improve cyber security practices in the face of increased pressure is clear.
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