5 cyber threat predictions for 2012

The U.S. government and industry must take an aggressive stance against cyberattacks in 2012.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta’s comments during a recent interview with CBS News have certainly gotten attention. He talked about “paralyzing our financial systems,” “bringing down our power grid” and “paralyzing the country.” These are strong warnings to be sure. He went on to say we need to “be prepared to be able to be aggressive when it comes to cyber efforts.”  This was music to the ears of some defense contractors; that is, to those involved in cyber. 

Here are the top cyber threat predictions for 2012:

  • -Cyberattacks in 2012 are expected to focus on mobile devices (source: McAfee).
  • -Global spending on cyber warfare for 2012 is estimated at $15.9 billion (source: Visiongain).
  • -Cyberattacks targeting specific organizations in specific industries are expected (source: Symantec).
  • -Cyber threat intensity increased 2.6 times in 2011 and is expected to grow faster in 2012 (source: Technolytics).
  • -Cyber espionage will dominate corporate and national information security landscapes this year (source: Panda Labs).

Analysis of the five cyber threat predictions paints a bleak picture for cybersecurity in 2012. The threats seem extremely challenging, if not a bit overwhelming. We are seeing the modernization of armed conflict and, at this point, there are more questions than answers.  

The administration’s budget cuts have had a minimal effect on the funding for the U.S. cyber warfare capabilities; however, it is clear that the sheer number of cyber adversaries coupled with the massive number of sole practitioners involved in vulnerability identification and sale combine to challenge the U.S. military’s operational abilities to defend against the increasing frequency and sophistication of cyberattacks.