Seven security trends for 2020

1 February 2020 Information Security

Lukas van der Merwe offers seven trends and challenges that face the security market in 2020.

1. The impact of cybersecurity on physical security

With the introduction of the Internet of Things (IoT) and increasing numbers of connected devices, the lines between physical and cybersecurity have become blurred. Access control systems, digital locking mechanisms, security cameras and more have all become dependent on IT infrastructure to function. This introduces a number of challenges.

When devices are connected, criminals can potentially access them to physically disable them, or they could use these devices as a gateway onto the network. On many devices, the default setting is not secure, and yet it is connected to home or office networks, leaving a loophole to be exploited. Best practices around security need to be followed, including changing passwords and having devices like IP cameras on a separate network to data and personal devices.

2. How will artificial intelligence and automation affect security services?

AI and automation have become critical to security and have to be used to augment it. The sheer volume of attempted attacks is increasing to such a point that it is impossible for human analysts to examine them all to identify real and serious threats.

We see millions of attempted attacks on our and our customers’ networks every day – the peak seen so far was 53 million in a 24 hour period in May 2019. If we did not make use of AI and automation to filter and validate the real threats, we would have a serious security problem on our hands. It is also possible to teach AI to look for patterns that precede an attack, such as malware signatures or specific sequences of events. This can provide an early warning to head off more attacks before they can successfully breach a network.

The usage of AI and automation is also being driven by the fact that cybercriminals are leveraging these capabilities to breach systems. If they do not form part of security solutions, we will be unable to effectively counter attacks. AI and automation are not replacing humans by any means, but simply enabling us to keep up.

3. The integration of IoT into security services

As mentioned, physical security and cyber have become integrated, with physical security devices now IP enabled and connected. While cameras, facial recognition, access control and so on enable improved security and transparency in operations, it is essential to ensure these devices are properly managed and controlled.

4. Will 5G deliver new opportunities?

For the average consumer, 5G will not deliver any significant benefit in 2020, especially in South Africa. We are still struggling with spectrum allocation, and all infrastructure, network devices and endpoint devices will need to be upgraded. It will, however, deliver incredible benefits in the long-term by enabling more devices to be connected at higher throughput. The most obvious for the consumer is incredibly fast connectivity which will allow for things like downloading movies in a few seconds.

Yet for the business world, the advantages are much broader. One of the biggest issues with 3G and 4G is latency, which may not be visible to the end consumer but which severely limits the applications of telemetry. Telemedicine applications such as remote surgery simply cannot be done if latency is an issue, because lives are at stake, but 5G will finally make this a reality. Robotic vehicles could also be remotely operated, which has huge applications in industries like mining. Miners would be able to operate equipment from the safety and comfort of an office, rather than physically being present in a mine, which vastly improves health and safety.

5. Facial biometrics: What should the security industry be aware of?

Passwords and dual factor authentication are clumsy, difficult, inconvenient and fallible. Facial biometrics offers the perfect opportunity to get around these methods using a unique identification system. This will simplify things from a cybersecurity perspective. It also has applications for verification in financial institutions as well as airports, and for law enforcement purposes.

However, the more facial recognition is applied the more attempts will be made to fool it. One example involves a 3D-printed mask that was able to fool most facial biometric systems with the exception of Apple and Huawei devices that use structured light imaging, a technology that is significantly harder to mislead.

As more applications are put into place, it is also important to ensure this information is properly secured and to understand the potential consequences should this data be breached. As with any new technology, as it is implemented new vulnerabilities will be discovered and patched, but securing information and ensuring data privacy are paramount.

6. Governance, risk and compliance challenges

In the United States and the European markets we are seeing compliance fatigue beginning to occur. This happens when organisations are simply not able to keep up with new regulations and the continuous changes to existing ones around security and privacy in particular. This is unlikely to occur in South Africa as the Protection of Personal Information Act (PoPIA) has not been regulated as yet. There are essentially two types of organisations in South Africa – those that have consulted with experts, defined policies and have the required controls in place for compliance, and those that know they should but have not.

Compliance, however, remains a top priority in 2020. There are many regulations besides PoPIA that need to be considered. This includes the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the Payment Card Industry (PCI) and the Data Security Standard (DSS).

To date, many organisations have tended to ignore certain elements of cybersecurity. However, with data protection becoming more heavily regulated this is no longer a possibility. This in turn will result in a higher level of cybersecurity maturity. We have also seen a shift in mindset to security first – new products are now developed with security in mind, and functionality being built around what can be secured. Cybersecurity is a board level concern, and no longer simply considered an IT problem.

7. Global trends affecting South Africa

We are seeing increasing prominence of ransomware, evident by the number of highly publicised and high profile attacks seen in 2019. Both locally and internationally, phishing is also a growing threat. This is because, as security posture improves, the human element becomes the easiest way into an organisation for a successful attack. This is not just directed at consumers – so called whale phishing, where targeted attacks are aimed at senior individuals within large organisations, are also on the increase. South Africa has become a prime target for these types of attacks, and planning, funding and focus needs to be directed toward mitigating the risks.




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