Security experts at Unisys Corporation predicted that the coming year will usher in broad-based adoption of encryption as enterprises respond to recent disclosures that unencrypted data traffic inside enterprises is vulnerable to detection from outsiders.
Disclosures that the U.S. government may have accessed data from the internal networks of major internet service providers have already prompted some of these companies to expand the use of encryption within their own organizations, Unisys experts noted. That activity will continue to grow in 2014, resulting in an explosion in the use of encryption tools, they said.
"Regardless of what you might think of Edward Snowden, the government contractor who leaked secrets about U.S. government surveillance, there is no denying that his disclosures have heightened awareness of cybersecurity all over the world," said Dave Frymier, Unisys chief information security officer. "Before that, many enterprises were running unencrypted data on their internal networks, which they believed were secure. Now they are beginning to use encryption internally as well, so we expect 2014 to be the year of encryption."
As a result of the Snowden disclosures, officials at the highest levels of organizations around the world will increase their focus on data loss prevention, encryption and prioritizing investments in security, Unisys experts predicted.
Frymier added that the increased use of encryption will both enable and encourage more companies to use infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) cloud solutions, where previously they might have had concerns about the safety of their data in the cloud.
New iPhone fingerprint readers jumpstart consumer acceptance of biometrics
Unisys experts also predicted that consumers will embrace the accuracy and ease-of-use of fingerprint readers on the new Apple iPhone, leading to a broader acceptance of biometrics in general. This could jump start a rapid growth in the use of biometrics – including fingerprint, iris scanning and facial recognition – on consumer devices as a way to protect the devices and data, as well as a method to confirm the identities of users for activities such as online retail transactions.
The acceptance of biometrics will begin the evolution away from the traditional user ID/password combination used most frequently to verify online identities.
In addition, the ability to automatically pinpoint a user's specific device as well as its geographical location will give security managers insight into the "context" of that user's attempt to access the network. Contextual authentication solutions can alert managers when, for example, someone outside of a pre-determined geographical area attempts to access their networks.
In the same way, attribute-based access controls identify access requests that fall outside a user's normal pattern, such as attempts to obtain information they don't normally access or at unusual hours. By combining these insights with other identity management methods like biometrics, security professionals can make it much more difficult for those without permission to gain access to networks and applications.
Focus on securing mobile devices and apps
Unisys experts predicted a rise in security awareness and protection techniques related to enterprise BYOD (bring your own device) programs. For example, Steve Vinsik, Unisys' vice president for global security solutions, predicted a rise in "bring your own security" scenarios, in which employees using their own mobile devices for work also employ their own security measures – often without the consent or awareness of enterprise security managers.
"That opens up a whole host of issues around how enterprises deal with people having their own security on their devices, and how that interacts with the enterprise's ability to monitor and manage that device," Vinsik said.
Frymier said software sandbox models, in which enterprises deploy mobile apps in an environment that is totally isolated from other applications, will continue to gain acceptance. By employing this model, organizations can stop, start, install and uninstall corporate mobile apps without affecting other parts of the mobile device.
Among financial institutions, advances such as embedded biometrics in mobile devices will give rise to greater acceptance of consumer banking transactions and e-commerce on mobile devices. Likewise, 2014 will see banks further exploring the use of self-service outlets and kiosks that require a combination of physical and digital security methods, including biometrics.