What’s in Store for Network Security in 2014: As If You Don’t Have Enough to Worry About


Sign provides reminder of predictions of cyber attacks ahead for 2014.

Here we go again. Yet another report of a massive network security breach. In this report, almost 2 million Facebook, Google, Twitter, Yahoo, LinkedIn, and other organizational accounts like ADP, the payroll service, were breached. That includes login credentials for 1.58 million social media accounts, 320,000 email accounts and nearly 500,000 passwords thus far. Security researchers at Trustwave SpiderLabs found the information after gaining access to a Pony botnet control panel. More details are shared in their blog post, Look What I Found, Moar Pony! 

And this comes after a JP Morgan Chase network security breach announced late last year. In this attack, first discovered in mid-September, the personal data of nearly 500,000 prepaid cardholders was compromised. The website revealed the information in plain text to hackers during the course of the attack, exposing cardholders to even more potential security threats.

With all of these reports and the start of a new year, there are countless predictions of technology trends and network security threats cropping up all over the Internet, on blogs, and in online magazine articles. Industry specialist Peter Silva pulled it all together in his annual compilation of lists of predictions, “The Top 10, Top 10 Predictions for 2014.”  It’s a good read.

There seems to be an industry consensus that the Internet of Everything (IoE) trend will only heighten network security threats, with IoE on several lists, including the top ten threat predictions from Fortinet’s FortiGuard Labs. Featured in Cybersecurity in 2014: A roundup of predictions in ZD Net, Fortinet predicts hackers will target off-net devices to penetrate corporate resources. Industry experts see networks or devices such as home routers, smart televisions, home automation and/or set top box connections, portable game consoles, wearable devices, security cameras, industrial control systems and others as vulnerable.

In Help Net Security’s Eyes on the cloud: Six predictions for 2014, one of our Windstream Senior Consultants, Kent Landry confirms “With more virtualization and a larger number of entry points occurring through Internet of Everything (IoE) trends, businesses and consumers will become more vulnerable to cybercrime. For protection, cloud providers will need to be certified in cyber security standards like NIST, PCI DSS compliance, STAR certifications and other industry checkpoints—and organizations will increase investments in protecting both their data and their customers with more advanced prevention software and training.”

Bots also held spots on many lists. In 14 IT security predictions for 2014 published in Real Business, bots are cited as a continued core attack technique, simply because they’re effective. Fortinet also sees more botnets migrating from traditional Command and Control (CnC) servers to Peer-to-Peer (P2P) networks, taking servers out of the equation. And more botnets will cross breed with other botnets rather than competing to better grow their bases of infected users.

A number of lists, including 8 Cyber Security Predictions for 2014 in InformationAge, predict attacks shifting towards data stored in public clouds versus stored on networks. In 2014 Cyber Security Forecast: Significant healthcare trends published Health IT Security, cloud and Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) adoption will require greater accountability for implementing policies and managing technologies. All the more reason for selecting a trusted cloud services provider (CSP) and considering highly secure cloud options.

Are you still using Windows XP? According to NetMarketShare, as of September 2013, Windows XP is still used on 31.42% of PCs in the world. Microsoft will discontinue support for Windows XP on April 8, 2014, leaving these systems vulnerable to attacks. In another Fortinet prediction, hackers will wait until the 8th to sell their “zero-day” exploit tactics to the highest bidder. Because of the expected high price tag, they’re likely to be used in targeted attacks against businesses and individuals, propagating mass chaos.

Have I given you enough to worry about? Unfortunately, I’ve only scratched the surface. But there’s plenty you can do now to protect your networks, applications and data. Talk to a Windstream representative about our enterprise-class network security, managed services, cloud solutions and data center services. If the 2014 cyber security predictions are any indication, the hackers are going to do their best to keep you up at night. We’ll be doing what we do best to make sure they can’t.