As 2016 winds down it is time to start looking ahead to 2017.  Recently, Experian, a leading global information systems company, released its 2017 Data Breach Industry Forecast. Below we summarize five upcoming trends from the report that companies should be aware of for 2017.

1) Aftershock password breaches will expedite the death of the password

As email and password breaches have become more and more prevalent over the last few years, cyber criminals have more and more data at their fingertips to access your personal information. According to the study, they are projecting that roughly 732,000 email addresses and password will be re-sold on the dark web from the 2012 and 2014 breaches of LinkedIn, Dropbox, and Yahoo. In order to combat these re-surfacing of passwords and email addresses, individuals and companies are going to be forced to develop different methods of user authentication than the typical password. Multi-factor authentication such as tokens, SMS alerts and bio metrics are just some of the ways companies will be using to address password reuse.

2) Nation-State cyber-attacks will move from espionage to war

The study believes that the US will inform the public sometime in 2017 that they have engaged in at least one major offensive cyber operation against one of the major terrorist organizations. The study speculates that this cyber operation could be a pre-emptive strike, but it most likely will be in retaliation for an attack from another nation-state.  With the growing unrest throughout the world, nation-states will evolve their method of their targeted attacks. For companies involved in critical infrastructure for the country, these companies should be attentive to potential targeted cyberattacks.

3) Healthcare organizations will be the most targeted sector with new, sophisticated attacks emerging.

In 2017, cyber-attacks will continue to target the healthcare sector since medical identity theft remains the most lucrative and coveted information by hackers and cyber thieves on the black web. The study also anticipates that hackers will shift from targeting insurance companies to hospital networks since due to their decentralized structure, they are easy targets. The study also notes that ransomware will continue to become more and more prevalent. Since access to patient data is critical to the successful operations of healthcare organizations, potential disruptions could be very impactful to patient care. Healthcare organizations should continue to strive to be diligent in protecting not only their information, but their patient’s personal information as well.

4) Criminals will focus on payment-based attacks despite the EMV shift taking place over a year ago.

Even though EMV Chips in debit and credit cards are beginning to become more and more common, they still are not eliminating payment-based attacks. According to the study, only 37% of the retailers in the United States have the technology to process chip cards. Most of the slow adopters to chip processing are either the smaller franchised retailers or the small locally owned businesses. These two companies will become an increased target by hackers, as they slowly adopt the chip technology. Also, as employee-less point of sale systems become more and more prevalent, skimmers will increasingly target these locations. Both businesses and consumers need to be more diligent together to deter hackers from engaging in the various payment-based attacks.

5) International data breaches will cause big headaches for multinational companies.

As a society, we are constantly evolving to reduce geographic boundaries for business. Even though some businesses operate internationally, most of these businesses have not updated their incident response plan to include the various regulations where the company does business.  The study points out that the Ponemon Institute recently surveyed various international companies and noted that only 42% of companies included any international aspects within their incident response plan. Companies need to make sure that they are not only prepared for cyber-attacks within the United States, but wherever they do business.