Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Past, present and future of IT security

In ‘Back to the Future’ movie (1986), Robert Zemeckis (screenwriter) pictured how he imagined the world in 2000. It was a world with flying vehicles and wearable technology, where people were still going to coffee shops to enjoy pancakes with ice cream and chocolate syrup while reading... a digital newspaper.


2014 is about to end and the Marty McFly’s seems to be so far away in time. However we are close to live in a permanently connected world with all the technology needed to feed our voracious appetite for information. McAfee Labs describes the main trends in cybersecurity for next year on its latest threat reportAnd yes, the internet of things as well as wearables and mobile devices appears as primary sources of risk.

The science fiction authors have widely told stories about travelling to the past and travelling to the future. Actually both concepts have evolved over time. Well, the espionage malware is suffering a similar development. It is usually discovered the spyware that has been running for years on the market, but not the one which is being used today. As a matter of fact, Turla is a malware adapted to Linux systems that has been dormant and unnoticed for four years until it has been detected. The malware is switch on by a numerical call. It can intercept communications with such a level of sophistication that its development points to an intelligence agencie.

McFly was surprised by Doc’s genius (or madness) when he transformed a DeLorean to a time machine. In fact, technology is sometimes so complex that we forget that the rest of society "is not used" to so many technicalities. Fortunately, there is light at the end of the tunnel. At Security Art Work they have gathered a list of several books and texts written by security experts in an understandable language.

Travelling in time could cause critical errors in the timeline, which would be too difficult to solve. In ‘Back to the future’, McFly brings up the hacker we all have deep inside and applies the principles of social engineering to avoid the catastrophic consequences of their parents not meeting each other.

You may not have a DeLorean, but at least you can learn from your experience. One of the most notorious attacks of our era, the one suffered by Target several months ago is a good example of the consequences of an APT if attackers have the time and resources required. Perhaps its chronology will be studied at security postgraduate studies in the coming years.

Some people look to the past. Others look to the future. In the global market, all eyes are on China, the giant that threatens to gobble other markets. Its market is very complicated and deeply controlled by its government. It can even put companies like Apple in check forcing them to restructure their privacy policies when offering licenses if it wants to be present in that country.

In conclusion, past-present-future is a complex triplet in any sector of economy, but even harder to understand in technology.

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