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8 hot cyber security trends (and 4 going cold)

What trends do security pros have their eyes on? Their answers run the gamut from tools and technologies to threats, tactics, and training.

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The whole tech industry is dynamic and constantly changing. And if you're in IT security, you're in a unique position that the changes can be forced upon you by techniques developed by malicious hackers. That means that there's always something new going on in the industry, and there are also some techniques and tools whose usefulness has fallen by the wayside.

We spoke to a host of security pros to find out what trends they have their eyes on for the next year or so, and their answers ran the gamut from tools and technologies to threats, tactics, and training. We also got some tips on once-hot ideas whose time has passed.

Hot: Ransomware

WannaCry and NotPetya made huge headlines last year, and most of the experts we talked to said companies have been putting defense against ransomware high on their priority list. Hyder Rabbani, COO of CyberSight, says that one thing that's boosted this threat is "the ability to 'outsource' development of custom ransomware strains to hackers willing to offer creative, revenue-share ransomware — aka ransomware-as-a-service. We'll see more non-technical hackers engaging ransomware developers for free and sharing a portion of the proceeds as payment, thereby requiring no skills or money to launch a malicious attack."

Another factor feeding the ransomware boom? "Cryptocurrencies," says Josh Mayfield, director at FireMon. "Government-issued currencies are out of the question for ransomware — it’s too easy to get caught. However, if you require payment with a cryptocurrency, you get higher probability of success."

Hot: The blockchain

Cryptocurrency is just one application of blockchain technology, of course — and there's a flurry of work being done to harness that technology to boost the security of transactions as well. "Blockchain applied to an identity world is an interesting, if not fairly speculative, real-world application," says Lawrence Aucoin, CTO and Managing Partner at Optimal IdM. "Some of the compelling foundational components of an identity blockchain are that you don’t need a central 'store' (or bank) as a middleman to trade with a partner. In fact, you don’t even need to know who the partner is — only that they are a verified participant in the blockchain. Trust is essential to commerce and that is blockchain’s sweet spot."

Not: VPNs

Making trusted connections with partners outside your organization is increasingly important. "We are seeing that many enterprise organizations are having to manage more and more vendors remotely accessing their networks — up to ten times more than the number of employees in many instances," says Rob Palermo, VP of Product at SecureLink. "So, securing, managing, and monitoring so many different privileged sessions is really a hot-button issue right now."

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