2017 Black Hat Security Pros Expect Major Breaches In 2018/2019; Attendees Predict That A Major Compromise Of U.S. Critical Infrastructure Will Occur In The Next Two Years;  And, Some Potential Cyber Threats They Did Not Address

2017 Black Hat Security Pros Expect Major Breaches In 2018/2019; Attendees Predict That A Major Compromise Of U.S. Critical Infrastructure Will Occur In The Next Two Years;  And, Some Potential Cyber Threats They Did Not Address


     Tim Wilson, Editor-In-Chief of the cyber security website — DarkReading.com — had a July 6, 2017 article based on a survey of the Black Hat attendees on the eve of the 20th annual gathering (July 26/27) in Las Vegas, Nevada.  My how things have changed. Twenty years ago, Black Hat was an obscure, mostly unknown, and small gathering of the world’s greatest White Hat hackers.  A group of computer nerds, who knew that the Internet had serious security issues; and, they gathered once a year to sort of ‘shout in the digital wilderness’ about the latest hacking threats; and, to warn about where and how that threat might evolve in the coming months and year/s. From an eclectic, small group, Black Hat has evolved into an annual gathering of hundreds of the world’s most elite White Hat hackers, with thousands more following the conference via the worldwide web. These cyber white hatters, are the digital ‘good guys’ in the cyber hacking world, who seek to warn us about what they see as the latest, most creative, and devious ways that the digital bad guys, the cyber Black Hats, are attempting to breach our devices and networks.  As those who have been invited to attend the 20th session later this month prepare to leave for Las Vegas, Mr. Wilson discusses a poll that was just completed, that asked the attendees how they thought the worldwide cyber threat is likely to evolve and play-out in the next twenty-four months.

     This year’s attendees believe that:  “A major compromise of U.S. critical national infrastructure WILL occur in the next two years,” according to a majority of IT/security professionals [attending the conference] — and most expect breaches of their own IT/network enterprise to occur even sooner.”  The entire results of the survey will be published next week/Wed., July 12, 2017, and about two weeks prior to the conference.  “The survey offers insights on the plans and attitudes of the 580 experienced [cyber] security professionals, including many cyber security leaders who work in critical-infrastructure industries,” Mr. Wilson wrote.

     “Sixty percent of the respondents to the Black Hat survey believe that a successful cyber attack on U.S. critical infrastructure will occur,” between now and the summer of 2019, Mr. Wilson wrote.  “Only 26 percent [of the respondents] are confident that the U.S.government is equipped and trained to respond appropriately.  About two-thirds of the respondents think their own organizations will have to respond to a major security breach in the next twelve months.  Sixty-nine percent say they do not have enough [qualified/talented] staff to meet the threat; and, 58 percent feel they do not have adequate [cyber security] budgets,” Mr. Wilson noted   Not surprisingly, “69 percent of IT security professionals feel that state-sponsored hacking from countries such as Russia and China has made the U.S. enterprise data less secure.”  You think!

     “When it comes to threats, IT security professionals’ greatest concerns are around phishing and social engineering (50%) and sophisticated attacks targeted directly at their own organizations; and, sophisticated attacks against targeted at their own organizations (45%),” according to the Black Hat survey.  “For the second straight year, respondents ranked ransomware as the greatest emerging threat to rise over the past twelve months, with 34 percent of the vote,” Mr. Wilson wrote.

     “While respondents to the Black Hat survey are most concerned with social engineering and targeted attacks, the majority believe their priorities will change in the not-too-distant future.  Digital attacks on non-computer systems — the Internet of Things (IoT) [also referred to as the Internet-of-Threats], currently ranks 10th among security professionals’ chief worries; but, when asked what they think they will be most concerned about two years from now, IoT security ranks first on the list — up 34 percent (up from 28 percent in 2016),” Mr. Wilson wrote.

What The Black Hat 2017 Conference Attendees Did Not Address In Their Potential Cyber Threat Survey

     Of all the conferences that I would like to attend, the upcoming Black Hat convention would definitely be one I would like to go to.  I really do not find anything all that notable nor surprising in how the attendees to this year’s conference see the cyber threat unfolding; though, I do think they have overlooked some other, just as likely possibilities.  

     First, the threat to the Internet-of-Things is likely to increase exponentially; and, even beyond what conference attendees are predicting.  With some 20B devices expected to be connected to the IoT by the end of this decade/2020, the cyber thieves will go where there is a target rich environment.  Cyber thieves will increasingly target home automation devices like smart TVs, cameras, smart locks, lights, and even e-cigarettes as a means/method of opportunity to gain entry to the targets personal devices — as a means and method of gaining access to the targets corporate ‘home;’

     Will we see the emergence of lethal offensive cyber weapons — where the objective is to cause loss of life?  Or, will we see the emergence of a cyber weapon of mass disruption? — A Stuxnet, or WannaCry on steroids?;

     Will we see the emergence of the Internet’s first known digital serial killer — an angel of death targeting pacemakers, and other medical devices in a deliberate act to cause death?;

     Might we see the emergence of a ‘Dr. No’ in cyber space, or an Elliott Carver of the James Bond film, ‘The World Is Not Enough,’ whereby the cyber black hat makes it appear that one nation carried out some kind of negative/damaging act that they were not responsible for?  As an example, what if a nation-state helps to cause — via a cyber hack — an accident at sea or in the air — in an attempt to cause the two sides to go to war — when in fact neither was responsible for the initial incident?

     Is their a potential for a Cyber Pearl Harbor?  If so, do we have contingency plans that are known; and have been tested/exercised so we know what to do in the first 24-48 hours after such an attack?

     It is getting late, this is all I could think of….for now.  V/R,RCP

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