The Top 6 Cybersecurity Takeaways from Mary Meeker’s Internet Trends Report

 

It’s official; everyone’s favourite ‘Queen of the Internet’ Mary Meeker is back with her 2019 Internet Trends Report, armed with insights on pivotal trends shaping the future of the internet.

The former Kleiner Perkins partner and now founder of growth fund Bond Capital has a lot to say about cybersecurity topics and it’s no wonder why.

With over half of humanity online and sharing more personal information than ever, cyberattacks have become the fastest-growing crime worldwide and within a few years will be more profitable than the entire global drug trade.

If that wasn’t enough, cybercrime is predicted to cost the world 6 trillion dollars annually by 2021 (that’s approximately $750 for every person on earth).

Want to know more about the latest threats to cybersecurity but too busy to check out all those slides?

No worries, that’s where we come in. Here are the top 6 Cybersecurity Takeaways you need to know about in 2019:

 

1. Cyber-attack sophistication rising

Cybersecurity should be on every business leader’s agenda as the number and sophistication of attacks is on the rise. Meeker highlights the increase of state-sponsored attacks, with the US, UK, Netherlands and Germany all publicly indicting state actors. Large-scale data provider attacks are also more prevalent; cloud services, telecoms and data brokers appear to be prime targets as they are seeing heightened activity.

On the upside, dwell time (how long an attacker has access to a network before being detected) continues to fall and is now on average 78 days vs 101 in 2017.

2. Sensitive data increasingly at risk

If you store, share and work with sensitive data, then this one’s for you. As more and more people start using SaaS applications, hackers are following their trail on the hunt for valuable information. The report demonstrates that in 2018 447MM sensitive records were exposed in security breaches, more than double the 198MM figure in 2017.

3. Online system weaknesses are leaving doors open

Many cyber-attacks and data breaches are also a result of opportunities created by online system weaknesses. Hackers continue to take advantage of system misconfigurations, social engineering and businesses’ internal tools to access valuable information. According to the figures Meeker quotes from the Uptime Institute, the downtime experienced by Data Center Operators has jumped from 25% in 2017 to 31% in 2018, reflecting the operational cost of these attacks.

4. Encrypted web traffic is increasing

With every data breach, more and more people are turning to encryption as a safeguard. Encrypted messaging and web traffic are rising rapidly, from 53% in 2016 to 87% in the first quarter of this year. The technology’s potential to restore trust in the internet hasn’t gone unnoticed; tech giants like Google and Facebook are hailing encryption as the answer to their privacy woes as well.

5. 2-Factor authentication use lagging behind

2-factor authentication (2FA) is a great way to add an extra layer of security by requiring more than one proof of identity, a step up from the standard “username and password approach”. Although security experts have seen a significant uptake in websites supporting 2FA (we’re currently at 52% globally), incomplete adoption is holding back the effectiveness of this approach. Meeker goes on to say that there is usually a lack of multi-factor authentication for applications accessed from within internal corporate networks.

6. State information warfare

On an even more somber note, the report reflects on how states are jeopardizing consumer trust in the internet by employing cyberwarfare tactics. According to Michele Flournoy & Michael Sulmeyer, co-founders of WestExec Advisors, states are “hacking into banks, meddling in elections, stealing intellectual property & bringing private companies to a standstill… Cyber-operations are emblematic of a new style of competition.”

 

There you have it folks, Mary Meeker’s insights on how online information is more vulnerable than ever to data breaches and cyber-attacks. She sums up how we got here with a quote from Jason Pielemeier, Policy Director of the Global Network Initiative:

During the first two-decades of the Internet’s growth, too much faith was put in the technology itself. Not enough was done to address challenges such as the spread of surveillance technologies, abuse of online platforms and the general undermining of trust. Council on Foreign Relations Blog 7.17

Since we can’t rely on tech giants and governments to safeguard our information, people have a responsibility to secure their own information and privacy as much as they can.

The good news? There are ways to enjoy the benefits of the internet and cloud technology without experiencing the downsides. If you want to know more about how to secure your data in the cloud, read on here.

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