What are the main threats and trends on internet?

At the beginning of June the Spanish National Cryptologic Centre (CCN) published, via the CCN-CERT, the 2017 edition of its Report on cyber threats and trends. This organism is part of the National Intelligence Centre and is responsible for handling cyber incidents which affect public sector systems, companies and organisation of strategic interest and any classified system.

The report highlights the complexity of internet crime: the authors have a range of profiles and sources of motivation, and in accordance with these they attack the public sector, private and civil organisations, with differing techniques and objectives in each case. For example, criminal organisations looking to make economic gains attack to steel, publish or sell information, manipulate information, interrupt systems or take control of them. Cyber vandals or script kiddies[1], meanwhile, not only aim to uncover vulnerabilities, enjoy themselves or regard the attacks as a challenge, as their actions also aim to steel information or interrupt systems. Other authors identified are states, private organisations, cyberterrorists, cyber jihadists, cyber activists, internal actors or cyber investigators.

Many of these attacks are focused on software or programmes, but those users who feel vulnerable also stress the use of mobile devises and social engineering (which was dealt with in a  previous entry). The emergence of internet of things is also worthy of special attention (IoT), as many of the manufacturers of these connected devices do not implement security measures and important deficiencies are detected which makes them more vulnerable to attacks which may lead to them being remote controlled by non-authorised third parties.

For 2017, more sophisticated threats aimed at specific objectives are expected (rather than indiscriminate attacks). Apart from this prediction, about twenty trends are mentioned, involving both threats and the responses to such threats, of which the following are highlighted:

  • New types of complex attacks
  • Short-lived infections, with no wish to persist, but which cause a lot of damage while they are active
  • Mobile devices as an objective for cyber espionage
  • Attacks on industrial control systems, focused on critical infrastructures
  • Weak security of internet of things
  • Automatic learning as a catalyst for social engineering attacks
  • Attacks on privacy as a tool of cyber activism

An executive review of the report can be consulted on the CCN web page.

[1] Defined as “those who, with limited knowledge and using tools made by third parties, carry out actions for a challenge, without being, on many occasions, fully aware of the consequences”.


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