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Enterprise security for our mobile-first, cloud-first world

Pierre Noel, Chief Security Officer and Advisor, Microsoft Asia; and CommunicAsia2016 Summit speaker | March 28, 2016
Pierre Noel, Chief Security Officer and Advisor, Microsoft Asia, shares his thoughts on threats in the cyber world.

This vendor-written piece has been edited by Executive Networks Media to eliminate product promotion, but readers should note it will likely favour the submitter's approach.

By 2020, four billion people will be online, 50 billion devices will be connected to the internet and data volumes will be an astounding 50 times greater than what we are seeing today.

This enormous explosion of connected devices and data flows and the complexity that comes with it, will make it more challenging than ever before for individuals, organisations and nations to protect themselves against cyberattacks - with greater complexity comes greater risk of malicious attacks and security exposure.

While there will always be new threats, new attacks and new technologies to keep an eye on, here are some security trends businesses in Asia Pacific ought to watch for this year: 

1.     Mobile Malware

As security threats continue to dominate news cycles, this year will be one where we see cybercriminals focus on targeting mobile devices by attacking underlying operating systems and releasing more malware-infected apps.

China leads the world in the number of mobile users, and malware on these devices will surface as a huge problem. A study by Tsinghua University, Microsoft Research, and China's Ministry of Science and Technology found that only a mere quarter of apps in the country's local app stores are safe.

The adoption of mobile payment systems will also lead to a surge in hack activity related to stealing information from new payment processing technologies like EMV credit cards, contactless RFID smart cards, and mobile wallets.

2.     Online extortion and hacktivism

According to TrendMicro, a Microsoft Partner, rapid growth in online extortion and hacktivism is expected this year, with more sophisticated ways of stealing information and gaining control of web-enabled devices being realised.

Malware programmes like ransomware, are potentially one of the most dangerous types of computer malware and might be used more frequently by hacktivists in order to encrypt the victim's personal information like photos or conversations and extort money online to regain control of online accounts and devices

3.     Password recovery scams, including spear phishing and smishing

Spear phishing is an e-mail spoofing fraud attempt that targets a specific organisation, seeking unauthorised access to confidential data. Spear phishing attempts are not typically initiated by "random hackers", but are more likely to be conducted by perpetrators out for financial gain, trade secrets, or military information.

Since phishing attacks are no longer limited to email, SMS phishing (smishing) is becoming more common, especially by hackers creating password recovery scams. A criminal hacker only needs a victim's email address and a mobile phone number to start a password recovery process and compromise their account.


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