Global cyberconflicts, hacktivism and disruptions are on the horizon

As the data breach landscape continues to evolve, companies must try to stay ahead of the curve and be prepared to respond to any type of security incident. To provide a snapshot of what could take place in 2016, Experian Data Breach Resolution has released five key predictions.

“We saw different types of breaches this year, and one of the major mistakes companies often make is taking a one-size-fits-all approach. Unfortunately, the reality is that no data breach is the same, and a wide variety of unique circumstances need to be considered in a data breach response plan,” said Michael Bruemmer, vice president at Experian Data Breach Resolution. “It is challenging to keep up so we are releasing this white paper to provide organizations with insight that will help them better strategize their incident response.”

Consumers and businesses will be collateral damage in cyberconflicts among countries

Cybercrime is no longer the only concern when it comes to data breaches. As nation-states continue to move their conflicts and espionage efforts to the digital world, we likely will see more incidents aimed at stealing corporate and government secrets or disrupting military operations. Such attacks can cause collateral damage in the form of exposed information for millions of individuals or stolen business IP addresses. We also may see an increase in large public-sector data breaches that expose millions of personal records.

“This is new-age warfare and, as individuals, we need to pick up the pieces if we have been affected and our personal information has been exposed,” said Bruemmer. “The public should not be complacent about identity protection. It’s important to practice good security habits on an ongoing basis and monitor accounts frequently to catch fraud early.”

Hacktivism will make a comeback

In the coming year, we likely will see a resurgence in hacktivist activities, motivated by the desire to effect reputational damage on a company or a cause. A few recent high-profile attacks provide an idea of what may come. No longer merely motivated by financial gain, criminals steal data to glean information that can be used for blackmail or extortion. This changes the response plan, and companies must consider all possible scenarios.

“This was the new twist to the data breach landscape in 2015, with thieves leveraging stolen data to embarrass or harm companies,” said Bruemmer. “Unfortunately, consumers are the pawns in the game, and they are victimized in the process. By association with the attacked organization, they also can suffer personal harm or embarrassment if their information is exposed. If an organization has a polarizing or controversial mission, it should consider this scenario and how it will take care of its constituency should a breach occur.”

2016 U.S. presidential candidates and campaigns will be attractive hacking targets

With the looming 2016 U.S. presidential election dominating media coverage, one of the presidential candidates, their campaigns and/or major donor bases likely will be hacked. As campaigns today are won and lost online and driven by Big Data analytics, the potential for a politically motivated attack is significant.

“We would be remiss if we did not mention this national occurrence as a possible target,” said Bruemmer. “For a fame-hungry criminal or motivated detractor, this is an attractive platform. It could happen with any activity on a national or global stage so leaders involved must ensure they are securing their systems and have incident response plans in place.”