Business

Six things to think about in the new year

6 things to think about in the new year
January 12, 2016

The new year brings a chance to reflect on 2015 and what may lie ahead for 2016. 

Here are six things to think about for this year, with business security strategy top of mind…

1. Artificial Intelligence keeping us safe online
Artificial intelligence and machine learning isn’t just about robot dogs and self-driving cars. The latest AVG Business anti-malware products contain a number of sophisticated neural learning and cloud-data collection techniques designed to catch malware earlier and more often. Expect to hear more through 2016 about how artificial intelligence will help transform security solutions to help keep malware at bay.

2. Certificate Authorities: beginning of the end
SSL continued to be a big talking point in 2015 with further vulnerabilities being disclosed. This year the debate will continue around certification, development of new open standards and easier choices for website owners. Every news story about certificate mismanagement, security mishaps, and data breaches puts Certificate Authorities under increasing scrutiny. For many small businesses, the website owners paying a Certificate Authority and submitting themselves to what can sometimes be an arduous verification and checking process, is cumbersome and unnecessary.

This is where technical alternatives like Let’s Encrypt (currently in beta) are bound to flourish.

Additionally, Google’s Certificate Transparency project will continue to identify rogue SSL Certificates through detections built into modern day web browsers, as Google continues to hold Certificate Authorities to account – helping keep us all safer.Lastly, with the promise of other solutions such as the Internet Society’s proposed DANE protocol, offering the ability for any website owner to validate their own SSL certificate and therefore bypass a Certificate Authority altogether, 2016 will be an interesting year to watch!

3. Malvertising, Ad Networks: shape up, or ship out
Malvertising is what happens when malware is served up to innocent web site visitors; it’s happening all too frequently and is caused by questionable third party relationships and the poor security of some online advertising networks. At the root of this problem is the “attack surface” of ever-growing, ever-complex advertising and tracking “scripts” provided by ad networks and included by publishers (often blindly) on their websites. The scripts are slowing the browsing experience and anyone who has installed an ad blocker recently will tell you they can’t believe how fast their favourite websites are now loading. Research conducted by The New York Times showed that for many popular mobile news websites, more than half of the bandwidth used comes from serving up ads. That’s more data from loading the ads, scripts and tracking codes, than the content you can see and read on the page!

Whatever the solution, one thing is for certain, Ad Networks need to shape up and address their security, otherwise 2016 may well be remembered as the year of Malvertising.

4. Augmenting passwords with extra security steps in 2016
The need for strong passwords isn’t going anywhere in 2016. There were reminders in 2015 that even having the world’s longest smartphone passcode doesn’t mean someone can’t figure it out.

This year, there will be growing use of extra steps to make accessing data safer. In 2015, Yahoo announced a security solution using mobile devices rather than a password for access, and we even saw Google include Smart Lock features that can use the presence of other nearby devices to unlock your smartphone. Two-factor authentication – using two steps and ‘something you have and something you know’ to verify someone’s identity – will continue to be popular for use by many cloud-based providers looking to avoid data breaches.

5. The Internet of Things needs security by design
Every device seems to be getting smart – in the home and in the office. You’re likely going to be using your smartphone as a “lifestyle remote” to control a growing array of devices. Being able to set the office temperature remotely, or turn on the kettle in the communal kitchen without leaving your desk may sound helpful, but the devices have the potential to give up WiFi keys. Every unprotected device that is connected to a network is open to hacking. Cyber criminals are probing hardware, scanning the airwaves, and harvesting passwords and other personal identity data from wherever they can. So the advice is simple: every connected innovation needs to be included in your business-wide security.

6. Update and upgrade or face the financial and legal consequences?
Upgrading and updating all your software, devices, gadgets and equipment remains a vital business issue. The Internet of Things is raising new questions about who is responsible for what in a legal sense. Who owns data? What happens when machines take “autonomous” decisions? Who is liable if something goes wrong? To take one extreme example, a police officer pulled over one of Google’s driverless cars in November for causing a traffic jam on one Californian highway by driving too slowly. Again, the lesson is clear. The simple rule this year is to ensure that your business software and systems are always using the latest update. Your life may not depend on it, but your livelihood might.

So these are my six “thinking points” as we head into 2016.

Here at AVG, we look forward to helping you keep security front and center for your business this year. For more information on AVG Business security solutions that keep devices, data and people protected every day, across the globe, visit http://www.avg.com/internet-security-business.

Tony Anscombe
January 12, 2016


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