Here are predictions on technology trends for 2017By Larry Buzecky, AEM Vice President, Business Intelligence & Strategy  

Happy New Year to you all! I hope you kept your firewalls updated and changed your newly strengthened passwords with frequency. That’s a critical ritual here at AEM and we hope you all are doing the same.

In case you were not aware, I made some predictions regarding technology trends in 2016, and upon review, overall, I think I did a resounding “okay.” No one is going to be employing me as a futurist any time soon (Derek Woodgate I’m looking at you!) but I still had some fun, hopefully provided you with a few interesting insights, and hope to deliver improved insights this year. Still reading? Onward!

Hacktivism on steroids and new levels of cybercrime professionalism - redux

Here’s one area where I did not miss last year (hard to miss, granted). Whether perceived or real, this unsavory practice dominated headlines throughout the presidential election, and there will continue to be a high level of focus at the top levels of our government regarding cybersecurity concerns. As I mentioned, hacktivism is cheap, and of course hacktivists, whether they are disgruntled individuals or groups or nation-states, will continue to innovate on this practice. And please note, we’ll never know the best security exploits currently deployed because, you know, they’re the best, and the best ones have not been discovered. Yet. Website defacement (poor Google Brazil), massive data breaches, malware seeding, etc. – there will be more, more, more. An easy tea leaf to read and always fascinating. Bonus note: did you know your headphones could be hacked to spy on you?

Interesting technology bedfellows – exposed!

As members in our industry increasingly become tech innovation hubs in and of themselves, we’ll see more news on the partnerships they forge in order to enhance their positions. A good example of this belongs to the venture Caterpillar is taking with Uptake Technologies. Uptake collects the massive amounts of data now being thrown off of construction/mining/aviation/rail equipment sensors, aggregates the data and combines it with other external sources such as weather and traffic, and then flows the results onto mobile-enabled dashboards for folks like work site supervisors to manage whatever operational focus areas are in play. Predictive analysis also provides end-users with greater asset management opportunities. In 2017, look for more of these kinds of data-based partnerships to become known – the key in 2017 will be for all the players in these industries to try to understand what their competitors already have well underway. And look for partnerships with vetted blockchain service providers that are already working with established industries on using the underlying technology to log whatever they want to log into an immutable, digital ledger. Of course, you also have companies large enough to take care of developing their own blockchain solutions, thank you very much.

Crowdsourcing gets REALLY crowded (for a price?)

Stop doing all the heavy lifting – if you need help with a really, really complex problem, help is at hand, perhaps for free, perhaps not. But how everyone from startup entrepreneurs to established corporate citizens are starting to use crowdsourced solutions is moving up into a new sphere of impressive. In 2017, look for levels of crowd leveraging not seen before. For context let’s look at this intriguing case reported on by Wired in 2016. In short, a San Francisco hedge fund guru crowdsourced the development of an AI system (meaning it can learn) for masking (and organizing, and more) the openly shared data he amasses. Thousands of data scientists he never met were employed and paid in digital currency. Which leads us to the subject of encryption.

Encryption can’t get encrypted enough

Allow me to get ultra-geeky here for a moment and introduce you to the concept of quantum cryptography. Because cybersecurity concerns will only escalate given the current geopolitical landscape, experts will push the development of quantum crytopgraphy like never before to make it the de facto technology for superdupersecure (new word for 2017!) communications between really important people. Quantum mechanical principles (such as entanglement – so cool!) will essentially be employed to secure a communication path that makes eavesdropping theoretically impossible. Thereby soundly defeating the nefarious man-in-the-middle attack where a hacker plants him or herself between two communicants and manipulates the message as the communication passes through their concealed system. Because of the enormous security potential here technology development around this framework should be pretty impressive this year (apparently only four companies currently offer commercial quantum key distribution systems – that’s going to change this year!). And so should the carnage wrought by…

IoT/DoS: THE marriage made in hell

…the Internet of Things (IoT) botnets harnessed to decimate through Denial of Service Attacks (DoS) any target/s the botnet owner desires. Whoo-boy did things get crazy here at the end of 2016! Look, your smart cars and headphones and refrigerators and toilets and hair combs that are now Internet-enabled are also typically not shipped to you with appropriate security measures in place – and they’re not advising you to put them in place, right? In short, these IoT devices are vulnerable to being woven together into a zombie network that can be used to overwhelm hacker target networks with tsunamis of data requests. Thing is, these botnets have grown exponentially in power. Mirai was the malware used to create one of the largest botnets last year, and Mirai, unfortunately, is starting to get serious competition according to Ars Technica. In 2017 securing your devices and hardening your firewalls should be top priorities both in the office and at home, because these botnets are only going to grow as IoT flourishes around the world, allowing for larger and larger networks to emerge. Or maybe don’t buy a refrigerator for browsing the net – c’mon people!

Those are my predictions. And if you feel compelled to share your thoughts, I’d be happy to hear them. You can contact me at lbuzecky@aem.org. May you have a productive and safe 2017!

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