Government, businesses and consumers all need to think more carefully about cyber threats as 2014 will see the most advanced attempts at hacking and cyber crime yet.
That's according to Malcolm Marshall, UK and global leader of the Information Protection and Business Resilience team at consultants KPMG. He believes governments will put more emphasis on business compliance with regulations over the next year.
"As governments worry about the scale of the cyber security threat, we can expect to see more national standards emerge, and greater pressure for 'voluntary' compliance. The US NIST cyber security framework and the UK government's ‘kitemark' are just two examples," he said.
The push for "voluntary" compliance will also see insurance companies amend policies in an effort to gather more business on the back of perceived threats from criminal hackers.
"On the back of emerging standards we will see the cyber insurance market develop and begin to provide market incentives for compliance, whether that is a willingness to insure or reduce premiums. Non-compliance will also lead to a legal debate over liability for incidents," Marshall continued.
KPMG believes that smartphones and tablets will also become even more of a target for criminals.
"Organised crime will always follow the money, with a growing range of malicious apps targeting online transactions, sophisticated spyware, and attack techniques that exploit the link between the user's mobile phone and their home computer," said Marshall.
"We can also expect more targeted attacks as criminals tailor their email campaigns and carefully choose their watering holes to lure in unsuspecting users," he continued, adding that distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks could potentially be the biggest threat to businesses and infrastructure during 2014.
"Denial of service attacks have been on the rise since 2012, growing in scale and sophistication. Network engineers do an amazing job of keeping the internet running, but many of the protocols at its heart remain insecure," he said.
"Attacks on directory and routing services have grown in 2013, and we have seen denial of service attacks against banks and media sites often linked to international tensions elsewhere in the world.
"A major outage of a country's internet service may be on the cards, but if not, we can expect numerous disruptive DDOS attacks against individual firms sometimes with extortion in mind," Marshall concluded.
A previous KPMG report warned that even though businesses recognise the potential threats of cyber crime, many aren't properly equipped to deal with a malicious attack by hackers.
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A discussion of the "risk perception gap", its implications and how it can be closed