Authored by: By Ray Garnie, APAC VP at DigiCert
As our year winds to a close, many of the uncertainties that shaped 2020 remain. The cybersecurity challenges that accompanied the pandemic have persisted, as hybrid remote workspaces have become a way of life. And through it all, the threat landscape continues to evolve, as innovations in cloud computing and other arenas open up new threats — some in unexpected areas.
To take stock of where we’re at and what lies on the horizon, here’s a closer look at what DigiCert has observed in the crystal ball for 2022:
1. Supply chain, ransomware and cyberterrorism attacks will continue to escalate
The fallout from audacious attacks like the SolarWinds episode was all over the headlines in 2021. In Singapore recently, the personal data and clinical information of 73,466 patients were affected in a cyberattack on a specialist eye clinic. The successful attacks shined a spotlight on three critical cybersecurity battlegrounds — and likely emboldened hackers. Some threats that are likely to thrive in the coming year include:
Supply chain complexity and vulnerabilities grow. The SolarWinds breach was based on malware in a software update that had gone undetected. However, securing software isn’t easy in fast-paced DevOps-driven organizations, where most workflows are about pushing deliverables out fast, rather than security by design. As development processes and supply chains for devices become more complex, the attack surface will only grow.
The good news is best practices like code signing can help companies bake security into each stage of the development process, taking control of development and confirming the integrity of code before it moves further along in the development cycle and out to production environments and customers.
Cyberterrorism will embolden bad actors. Cyberterrorists demonstrated their potential to paralyze key infrastructure when a cyber-espionage group targeted at least four critical infrastructure organizations in Southeast Asia. The incident could have had serious consequences, as the attacker was targeting essential services such as water, power, communications and defense. New opportunities are emerging all the time, limited only by attackers’ imaginations, and high-profile technology environments such as private space launches and elections could prove inviting targets.
Governments around the world, including in Singapore, are building up their critical information infrastructure by developing initiatives to help organizations establish best practices to better manage cybersecurity risks across the supply chain. Public and private organizations that are vulnerable to spectacular cyberattacks will need to redouble their focus on a zero-trust approach to security.
Ransomware will continue to expand its reach. Ransomware attacks impacted a diverse array of industries in 2021, including insurance providers, and technology companies. Like cyberterrorist events, ransomware attacks often attract heavy press coverage, which can further encourage bad actors seeking publicity. We predict that ransomware attacks will continue to escalate, especially as the use of cryptocurrency expands — and makes ransom payments harder to trace outside the banking system.
2. Trust and identity step up in business processes
APAC companies in every industry have been embracing digital transformation for years, and the trend is accelerating. As complex technology becomes a deeper part of every organization’s most critical processes, a stronger level of trust and identity will be required.
Stakes are growing for digital signatures. We predict that more workflows will be associated with digital signatures, in industries like financial services, real estate, healthcare and education. Digital signatures are also helpful for organizations with hybrid work, to onboard or support remote employees. The stakes are growing as digital signatures become more widely accepted, with Asia Pacific likely to achieve the fastest market growth in the space.
Across Asia, there is a rise in the validity and enforceability of digital signatures in business and legal spaces. Singapore has amended its Electronics Transactions Act in March 2021 to include electronic transferable records, such as digital signatures, as valid in court. Existing laws in countries like Vietnam, the Philippines and Thailand also recognize the legal validity of electronic signatures.
Identity and trust power the IoT and more. For data-driven use cases like the IoT, trust is more important than ever. Devices like healthcare monitors, industrial control devices, home security systems and vehicle sensors all depend on the integrity of their real-time data to support processes and decisions. As the adoption of 5G technology accelerates, we’ll see an increasing convergence in IoT and 5G applications — which could invite more attacks. PKI remains a robust, proven method to assure trust in IoT environments.
VMC trust and identity will change the face of email marketing. According to Euromonitor, ecommerce sales in Asia Pacific to are expected to nearly double by 2025, reaching USD 2 trillion. We predict that organizations will increasingly adopt Verified Mark Certificates (VMCs) to build their brand equity and strengthen trust as they market online. VMCs certify the authenticity to display a logo to email recipients right in their inboxes before an email is opened. By using VMCs, marketers can reinforce their branding and demonstrate to customers that they care about their privacy and IT security.
3. Post-COVID threats will persist and evolve
Last year, we predicted that individuals and businesses alike will adjust to a new normal in 2021 with threats like fraud, phishing and data breaches targeting social changes to activities like work and travel. As the pandemic slowly recedes, we predict that those threats will continue to remain. We are seeing increasing use of contact-less technologies in airports, retail environments, restaurants and other public spaces — all of which are vulnerable to cyberattacks. Digital ID schemes such as drivers’ licenses and healthcare records are becoming more widely used — and also remain possible points that can be hacked.
4. Post-quantum computing will challenge the security status quo
A DigiCert survey of IT decision-makers, including 100 from Japan, found that 71% of them believe quantum computers will be able to break existing cryptographic algorithms by 2025. That means security organizations will need to rethink security for a post-quantum world. Postquantum cryptography (PQC) can strengthen cryptography, decreasing the possibility of security breaches. But many companies lack a clear understanding of the crypto they deploy, so they will want to take proactive steps to locate all the exposed servers and devices and rapidly update them when a fresh vulnerability comes to light.
We predict some major developments in the PQC world in 2022, as NIST is expected to announce the winner of their effort to replace current versions of RSA and ECC encryption algorithms.
5. Automation will power cybersecurity improvements
As organizations work to keep the lights on and scrutinize the bottom line, there will be a resulting push for efficiency in security technologies. Security teams will be asked to do more with even fewer resources. 2022 will bring an emphasis on technologies that allow organizations to do more with less, and automation will play a significant role in terms of security innovation in the New Year. A recent DigiCert survey showed that 96% of enterprises in APAC are interested in PKI automation and are at least discussing automating the management of PKI certificates. AI and ML technologies will continue to play an essential role in powering this automation.
6. Cloud sovereignty will create new security demands
In an increasingly multi-cloud world, traditional perimeter-based security approaches have become obsolete. We predict that cybersecurity challenges will become even more demanding as cloud services become more granular. Organizations are deploying cloud solutions that are increasingly subject to local jurisdiction and regulations. Cloud sovereignty controls are focused on protecting sensitive, private data, and ensuring that data stays under owners’ control.
For example, Alibaba is expanding its cloud business with new data centers opening in South Korea and Thailand. Similarly, the industry-leading AWS and Google Cloud have data centers already set up in Singapore and Indonesia. As more of these sovereign cloud initiatives emerge, we predict organizations will require an increasing awareness of regional security requirements.
7. Organizations prioritizing culture of security
Finally, we anticipate organizations working harder to strengthen a culture of cybersecurity, led from the top. We’re hearing more about employee education using phishing tests, mandatory online training and cyber simulation exercises taking place at the board level, to help C-level participants test their communication strategies and decision-making in the event of a major cybersecurity crisis.
It’s clear that cyber attackers will continue to innovate and create more complex, insidious threats. Mitigating tomorrow’s threats will require a commitment from leadership and good communication across every organization.
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