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10 technologies that are changing how we think about cybersecurity

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The changing nature of cybersecurity

Representational image depecting cybersecurity protection

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

With technology having come to dictate our global economy, it’s important to consider how it’s going to develop in the coming years. That’s especially the case in cybersecurity, which protects us from the multitude of dangers that new technologies pose. 

It’s a rapidly evolving landscape, and there are more technologies out there that will change the face of cybersecurity than we have time to learn about. So, to get you up to speed we’ve put together a list of the 10 most important technologies that will change security forever.

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1. Cloud computing

Cloud

(Image credit: Future)

We should all be familiar with the cloud. It’s the ubiquitous yet nebulous data storage alternative that companies can’t seem to get enough of, even if they’re bad at keeping the information in it secure. 

Because the cloud uses remote servers to store files that are often confidential, it’s going to have an impact on the way we approach cybersecurity. Right now there are some impeccable efforts being made in terms of local encryption; cloud storage encryption, on the other hand, still has a ways to go. 

2. The internet of things

IoT

(Image credit: Future)

Ransomware is an increasingly prevalent type of malicious software (malware) that will typically lock your computer or files, with the creator offering to unlock them in exchange for money. Ransomware is a very real threat (opens in new tab)

It’s a growing problem in the context of the internet of things (IoT), where vulnerabilities are only now beginning to become apparent. Smart home devices, which can include everything from refrigerators to thermostats, are very easy targets for ransomware and other attacks right now, and it’s an area where the cybersecurity industry will be focusing its efforts in 2018.

3. Cryptocurrencies

Bitcoin

(Image credit: Future)

Everyone from celebrities to startups to celebrity startups is trying to position themselves to profit from the cryptocurrency craze, and it’s not hard to see why. 

Mining virtual currencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum has created such a high demand for graphics cards (opens in new tab) that games and others who want them for conventional purposes are struggling to get their hands on them. 

4. Machine learning

Machine Learning

(Image credit: Future)

Commonly confused with AI, or artificial intelligence (which we’ll talk about later), machine learning is the idea that computers and systems can become capable of learning on their own, without programmer input. 

Organizations from Nasa and Google are trying to get a jump on machine learning, and it’s used to help power Uber’s dynamic pricing model.

5. Biometrics

We have multi-step verification on nearly all of our accounts now, from our bank accounts to social media. What we need more of is hardware authentication that does away with the generic password solution – passwords can be easily guessed by the aforementioned machine learning software. 

Microsoft and Apple have made great strides in biometric log-in technology: Microsoft has Windows Hello (opens in new tab) in Windows 10, which can be configured to log you into your computer or tablet by facial recognition or by fingerprint scan, while the iPhone X (opens in new tab) introduced Face ID.

None of the solutions out there at the moment are perfect though (opens in new tab), and until we have hardware authentication that doesn’t require a backup password, cybersecurity organizations have their work cut out for them.

6. Remote browsers

Remote browsers

(Image credit: Future)

Don’t be alarmed, but your web browser isn’t as secure as you probably think it is. In fact, the web browsers we use every day are the most common route of entry for malware. That’s where a remote browser comes in handy.

Many enterprise users, especially those using Chromebooks (opens in new tab), are probably familiar with the concept of a remote browser. If you have to log in to a server to access the web every time you open Google Chrome, you’re using a remote browser. This is notably more secure than a local browsing session, as you can always reset the server to a previously working state should anything go awry.

7. Multi-factor authentication

Yahoo

(Image credit: Future)

As we touched on earlier, requiring a single password to access a company account is an open invitation for hackers. In Verizon’s data breach investigations report (opens in new tab) from last year, it was confirmed that 63% of data breaches occur as a result of weak, easily crackable passwords being exploited.

Companies, then, have a duty to more strictly enforce multi-factor authentication in the coming years. After the fallout from last year’s Equifax data breach, research conducted by BitDefender (opens in new tab) suggests the general public is finally starting to care more about identity theft (opens in new tab) and its consequences.

8. Quantum computing

Quantum computing

(Image credit: Future)

It’s a concept that’s existed since the 1960s, but quantum computing is still in its infancy. 

Whereas a regular computer works with bits, or a combination of ones and zeroes, a quantum computer can use ones, zeroes and any quantum superposition of both of those values to process data infinitely faster than the machines we use today.

Since they’re able to handle complex situations that even a normal supercomputer wouldn’t know what to do with, quantum computers will play a big role in the future of healthcare, politics and – you guessed it – cybersecurity encryption.

9. User behavior analytics

Web

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

There are serious security concerns surrounding the field of analytics. For one, privacy can be betrayed by websites (opens in new tab) that simply collect data in order to tailor advertisements more directly to individuals. But user behavior analytics (UBA) can be genuinely beneficial.

Legally, an organization can’t pry into someone’s computer to find out who they are, where they live and what they do for a living. What they can do is identify users based on behavior profiles. Whenever you swipe a certain way on a touchscreen or make a repeated typo, for instance, UBA technology is there to document and make use of that information. 

This data can then be used to forecast security breaches before they happen, should any peculiar user or system behavior take place.

10. Artificial intelligence

Artificial intelligence

(Image credit: DeepMind)

Most of us have some experience of interacting with artificial intelligence thanks to its implementation in video games or in Siri/Google Assistant. What you might not be aware of is the critical role of AI in cybersecurity. 

Firms have already started building tools that can patch security holes before they can be exploited by cybercriminals – but the same time, hackers are adapting to the new ecosystem, and trying to create systems that are smarter than anything a company or government can deal with. AI will only become more powerful as a result of this cybersecurity arms race.

Gabe has been writing about video games and technology since he was 16 years old. Currently serving as a Contributing Editor & Producer for TechRadar, where he keeps articles fresh and up to date on the reg, you may recognize his byline from Digital Trends, TechSpot and Kotaku UK. He can't tell if his adoration of Sonic the Hedgehog is genuine or ironic anymore.