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“Wait a minute…The Internet knows more about me than my own mother?”

03 Dec 2013

Whispers. The secret to predicting the future is to listen for the whisper.

By the time you’ve heard things in a loud, clear voice they have already come true.

I’ve been listening to the whispers in 2013 and have a pretty good idea for what we’ll be hearing loud and clear in 2014.

Below are my predictions of the top things we’ll hear and what they will mean for us in 2014:

• People will finally begin taking active steps to keep their information private.

• Scammers, data collectors and cybercriminals will not ignore any social network, no matter how “niche” or obscure.

• The “Internet of Things” becomes the “Internet of Vulnerabilities.”

• Mobile apps will prove that you can like yourself too much.

“Wait a minute…The Internet knows more about me than my own mother?”

People will finally begin taking active steps to keep their information private

Privacy issues have littered the headlines in 2013, delivering a wake-up call to people and businesses about the amount of personal information we share and that is collected every day by everyone from your doctor to your social network.

You can expect to see privacy protection as a feature in new and existing products. Then, beyond 2014, we’ll be arguing on whether or not these features actually provide any privacy protection.

Expect Tor, which enables online anonymity, to become a popular application across the spectrum of Internet users. You’ll also see a resurgence of users adopting aliases and fake names on social networking sites to protect their privacy.

And you know who is going to lead the way on this? Teens. They do care about privacy—and not just where their parents are concerned.

Given this, more people will move to new, upstart and niche social networking sites, in an attempt to hang with their friends in obscurity. Which leads to my next prediction…

“Adult supervision is not wanted but adult behaviour may keep you out of trouble.”

Scammers, data collectors and cybercriminals will not ignore any social network, no matter how “niche” or obscure

It’s tempting to believe that you can move to a new neighbourhood and all your old problems will go away. They don’t in real life and they won’t when it comes to social networking.

Any new social network that attracts users will also attract scammers and miscreants. Users who feel it’s just them and their friends on these new sites are in for a big (and unpleasant) surprise.

Your mother won’t be there to remind you, so let me: If something sounds too good to be true, it almost certainly is a scam. Protect yourself by using security best practices no matter where you are on the Internet, or how you connect to it. And speaking of connecting…

“Your toaster is not infected, but your security camera just robbed you blind.”

The “Internet of Things” becomes the “Internet of Vulnerabilities"

You can expect dumb things will get smarter in 2014. With millions of devices connected to the Internet—and in many cases running an embedded operating system—in 2014, they will become a magnet for hackers.

Security researchers have already demonstrated attacks against smart televisions, medical equipment and security cameras.

Already we’ve seen baby monitors attacked and traffic was shut down on a major tunnel in Israel, reportedly due to hackers accessing computer systems via a security camera system. Major software vendors have figured out how to notify customers and get patches for vulnerabilities to them.

The companies building gadgets that connect to the Internet don’t even realize they have an oncoming security problem. These systems are not only vulnerable to an attack – they also lack notification methods for consumers and businesses when vulnerabilities are discovered.

Even worse, they don’t have a friendly end-user method to patch these new vulnerabilities. Given this, we are going to see new threats in ways in which we’ve never seen before.

“I like you, I like you, I like you... That will be $20 and your login and password, please.”

Mobile apps will prove that you can like yourself too much

People (generally) trust those they sleep with, so it should not be surprising that with 48 percent of people sleeping with their smart phones, they are lulled into a (false) sense of security about them.

In 2013, we reported on a mobile app that would secure additional “likes” for your postings on Instagram. All you had to do was hand over your login and password to some guy in Russia. More than 100,000 people saw nothing wrong with that. We trust our mobile devices and the wonderful apps that run on them to make our lives better.

We suspend disbelief for that device that sits in our pocket, purse or nightstand. The bad guys are going to take advantage of this big time in 2014. I’m not even talking about malware – mobile apps are going to be behind hoaxes, cons and scams of all sorts in 2014.

So, there you have them, my predictions for 2014.

Of course, the best part of trying to predict the future is being surprised by the unforeseen and the unimaginable.

I'll be right on some of my predictions. I'll be proved wrong on others.

What’s certain is that I'll be listening for all the new whispers to see what 2015 will bring.

By Kevin Haley – Symantec

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