Interview: Scott Hesford, BeyondTrust
How has Australia coped with COVID-induced changes to operations and workplaces? Will things go back to a ‘new normal’ in 2022?
In 2021, the pandemic remained with us. While cyberattackers had exploited the pandemic during its earliest stages, late 2020 through 2021 was when the abundant attack surfaces created by rushed implementation of remote working and digital transformation initiatives began to be exploited with vigour. Cybercrime exploded. Once-in-a-decade breaches (SolarWinds, Colonial Pipeline, Nine Entertainment, JBS foods, Kaseya) seemed to occur monthly. The proliferation of cyberthreats, breaches and the accelerated de-perimeterisation of enterprises also catapulted the concept of zero trust from security aspiration to a security mandate.
During these last two years, our collective digital dependency has only increased. The stakes for protecting digital assets and critical infrastructure from cyberattacks is only getting more urgent, while ever-more difficult to achieve. There is no turning back.
Which new technologies will reach critical mass and become dominant in 2022?
Today, IoT technology is pervasive and is appearing in parts of the enterprise that would have been unfathomable just a few years back. Consumers and businesses can expect that newer devices will be cellular-enabled, or cellular-capable, to provide services outside of local area and Wi-Fi networks. This will allow connectivity using a subscription model and remove the barriers and troubleshooting required for connectivity on home or small business networks.
Continuous connectivity, regardless of environmental conditions, will be highly appealing to most users — especially for security-related systems like alarm systems and cameras.
What is the major potential tech pain point that will face all organisations large and small in 2022?
Record-breaking ransomware payouts in 2021, including $40 million paid by one victim’s insurance company, continued to validate the ROI and economics of ransomware for threat actors.
This year, the ransomware model evolved to include data extortion based on exfiltrated information. But ransomware is not done evolving. New paradigms to extort money will emerge in 2022.
Organisations should expect ransomware to become personalised and increasingly involve different types of assets, like IoT, as well as company insiders. Targeted disclosure of exfiltrated information may be perpetrated to specific buyers. We may even start to see more flexible terms of payment, as opposed to lump sum payouts. With instalment plans, ransomware operators will decrypt victim assets over time, based on agreed upon payout terms.
What’s on your tech wish list from governments, innovators and the wider industry in 2022?
Since the advent of networking, the attack chain has typically comprised such steps as exploitation of a vulnerability, obtaining of privileged access, lateral movement, and exfiltration of data or operational damage. Each year, it’s hoped that next year will be the year we get the basics right and the number of successful attacks declines.
In 2022, the number of successful attacks will most likely continue to grow, the average cost to the victim organisation per successful attack will rise and the pattern will repeat. Why? Because with so many new and shiny technologies to choose from, the IT security basics just aren’t exciting. It would be good to be wrong on this one and see the industry break this chain.
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