Get ready for the cyber war in 2017: know your enemy

The current state of the cyber security industry is troubling to say the least, with 2016 experiencing a greater number of successful, more vicious cyber attacks than ever before

The past few months have summed up the current state of the cyber security industry.

In a matter of days at the end of November the European Commission was brought offline by a distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attack, San Francisco’s Municipal Railway was held to ransom by ransomware in a system-wide attack and it was revealed that in September the Japanese Defence Ministry and Self-Defence Forces were hacked, which may have compromised Japan’s internal military network.

It seems almost farcical, and from these recent examples it is evident that critical infrastructure is totally unprepared for an attack and will continue to be severely vulnerable at the beginning of 2017.

It is not just the public sector that is suffering, with private organisations facing daily hacking attacks despite serious investment in cyber security strategies.

The problem is inherently twofold. The first is that cyber criminals and their tactics are constantly evolving, becoming more overwhelming and hard to detect by the day, it seems.

The ferocity of cyber attacks was illustrated last year by the Mirai botnet n(or Dyn) attacks that overran a number of systems using corrupted Internet of Things (IoT) devices.

When the malicious code was first published online in October, it gave a suspected group of teenagers the ability to shut down the likes of Twitter and Spotify.

In the preceding month, Liberia’s internet was taken offline using the same code. Improving the security of IoT devices will be crucial during 2017. This is where the most devastating cyber attacks will originate.