Dr. Jane LeClair By Dr. Jane LeClair • December 21, 2016

10 Critical Cybersecurity Challenges for 2017 and Beyond

Foursquare. Weebly. Democratic National Committee (DNC). Dyn DNS. The city of Chicago's road signs.

Those are just a handful of the notable cyberattacks that occurred during one week in October 2016.

This past year, the forces affecting cyber have only grown in sophistication, scope and frequency. Not a week goes by in the news cycle where we don't hear about another high-profile cyberattack. Perhaps, we've even become accustomed to such incidents. We brush off these assaults on our digital lives for the sake of what we believe is innovation, productivity and convenience. After all, when was the last time you physically walked into a bank? Or used an app to control some aspect of your home from afar? Today, online banking has become the norm, and our desire to fit the Internet of Things (IoT) into our daily lives has only grown. In 2017, there’s no question that the stakes will be higher than ever.

A cyber security symposium held this past November in Washington D.C. addressed this next generation of security threats by gathering the experts who have a responsibility to safeguard our data, intellectual property and personal information. These leading researchers, data scientists, cybersecurity professionals and revolutionary startups agreed on one major point: we need innovative, groundbreaking ideas to combat the security implications technological change has in store for us.

At the rate in which globalization and technology continues to evolve, we've only seen the beginning of what we will have to face on the cyber frontier. Here are 10 critical cyber issues discussed at the conference that we need to plan for.  

1. Hackers are not going to quit their activities.

In fact, according to more than one presenter, attacks on our digital systems are not only going to increase in number, but also in sophistication.

2. Stakeholders need to cooperate with one another on a massive scale.

Business and academia must cooperate with government agencies and form partnerships to share information to help thwart cyberattacks. 

3. The needs of the future IT workforce is changing rapidly.

There is an ongoing lack of skilled professionals to fill the unoccupied seats in our IT departments.

4. As we increase our global connections through The Internet of Things (IoT), so too will incidents of attacks.

As a myriad of chip-enabled products are released to consumers, the Internet of Things (IoT) will exponentially broaden the attack surface and increase our vulnerabilities.

5. Leaders are aware of cybersecurity issues, but do not know what to do next.

The entire issue of cybersecurity has gone from a back office nuisance to a major topic of conversation. Today's C-Suite executives now pay attention, but in many cases are not sure what to do. 

6. Specialized cybersecurity groups will continue to rise.

'Hunt Teams', highly skilled and specialized cybersecurity groups that seek out attackers in a system, will continue to grow. These professionals have been seen in in increasing numbers in the cybersecurity operations centers of organizations.

7. Money does not equal security.

Chief information security officers are coming to realize that simply throwing money at the issue may not provide the security they are seeking.

8. There is significant lag time between data breaches and detection.

On average, 146 days pass between the day an organization's digital system is attacked and breached and when the attack is detected.

9. Attacks on our critical infrastructure will become more frequent.

Our critical infrastructure continues to be under mounting attack as bad actors in the form of individuals, groups and nation states probe for weaknesses in the cyber defenses of these all-important sectors.

10. The cybersecurity insurance industry will expand its role.

Cybersecurity insurance will continue to balloon as organizations seek to shift financial and moral responsibility for breaches of their digital systems.

Dr. Jane LeClair

Written by Dr. Jane LeClair

Dr. Jane LeClair is the president of the Washington Center for Cybersecurity Research and Development, and consults on cybersecurity programming at Thomas Edison State University. She has previously served as the Chief Operating Officer for the National Cybersecurity Institute. Dr. LeClair holds an MS in Cybersecurity and an EdD in Adult Education.

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