More security vulnerabilities will appear in the software of Adobe and Apple than in Microsoft's, more attacks on the Internet's infrastructure will occur, and cybersecurity events will stoke international tensions. Those are a few of the predictions for 2017 that security experts shared with TechNewsWorld.
Users of Apple desktops and laptops for years have been relatively insulated from the kinds of malicious activity that has besieged those in the Windows world, but that's going to change next year, warned Trend Micro.
More software flaws will affect Adobe and Apple in 2017, compared to Microsoft, the company noted in a security predictions report.
Declining PC sales and an exodus to mobile platforms have dampened interest in targeting devices running Windows, Trend Micro explained. Microsoft also has upped its security game in recent times, which has made it more difficult for attackers to find vulnerabilities in Windows.
Follow the Money
Signs of hackers' increased interest in Adobe and Apple started appearing in 2016, Trend Micro noted. Zero day vulnerabilities -- flaws unknown to researchers until malicious actors exploit them -- numbered 135 for Adobe compared to 76 for Microsoft.
Meanwhile, Apple's vulnerability count during the same period increased to 50, shooting up from 25 in 2015.
The increased attention Apple has drawn from criminals can be associated with its growing success in the desktop and laptop market.
"There's a much broader use of Apple products now," said Ed Cabrera, vice president of cybersecurity strategy at Trend Micro.
"The criminals go where consumers and enterprises are," he told TechNewsWorld. "If consumers and enterprises are utilizing more Apple products, then that's where they're going to focus their activity, because that's where the money is going to be."
Distributed denial of service attacks long have functioned as a cyberweapon against websites, but their use reached a new level in 2016, when they disrupted Internet service in parts of North America and Europe by choking an important piece of Net infrastructure: the domain name system.
The DNS converts domain names into corresponding IP addresses. If a domain name can't be paired with its IP address, then a browser becomes lost on the Net.
More "upstream" attacks on the Internet will take place in 2017, said Chase Cunningham, director of cyberoperations at A10 Networks.
"If you're an enemy of someone who depends on the Internet for business or commerce, last year it was shown that if you upstream a little bit and launch a crafted Denial of Service attack, you can bring down large provider websites and infrastructure," he told TechNewsWorld.
"In 2017, we're going to see more upstream attacks, and DDoS is going to make a comeback as a cyberweapon," Cunningham said. "We're going to see a powerful denial of service attack on something that will cause problems for a national infrastructure."
Geopolitics Feeding Cyberattacks
Simmering tensions over nations hacking nations will come to a boil in 2017, predicted Tom Kellermann, CEO of Strategic Cyber Ventures.
"Geopolitics will be the harbinger for cyberattacks in 2017," he told TechNewsWorld.
Those cyberattacks will be fostered by both old and new presidents of the United States.
"Due to the president elect's rhetoric against China, Chinese hacking will begin again with increased vigor," Kellermann said. "North Korea will leverage IoT for more denial of service attacks against the West."
In addition, he continued, Trump's anti-Muslim statements during the presidential campaign have increased the membership of cyberterrorist organizations -- like al-Qaida and the Cyber Caliphate -- that will use their new resources to dismantle and destroy U.S. infrastructure in the coming year.
Russian cyberattacks also will increase.
"Once President Obama takes revenge upon Putin for the hacking of the election and other things, you will see increased cybermilitia activity via Russian proxies in Eastern Europe against the U.S.," Kellermann said.
A cyberhangover from a divisive and inconclusive presidential election also can be expected in 2017.
"Disillusioned American voters will become more inclined toward hacktivism," Kellermann predicted.
That hacktivism will be more destructive than it has been in the past, he said. For example, ransomware will be used to encrypt data solely for denying access to that data and not for ransom. Malicious software delivering "wiper" payloads, which destroy data, also will increase.
Voter disillusionment could give old line hactivist groups, like Anonymous, a new reason for being.
"Anonymous has been fractured for some time," Kellermann noted. "On Jan. 20, you could see a consolidation of Anonymous once again, for the cause of acting out against the incoming administration."
Artificial intelligence will revolutionize marketing in the next five years, according to survey results Demandbase released this week.
Eighty percent of the 500 B2B marketers who participated in the online poll, conducted last month by Wakefield Research, said they expected an AI-fueled marketing revolution.
However, only 26 percent were very confident they understood how AI was used in marketing, and only 10 percent said they already were using it.
AI "has the potential to help marketing and sales teams hyper-personalize the customer experience at an entirely new level," remarked Aman Naimat, SVP of technology at Demandbase.
Its use "will allow for one-on-one conversations with marketers who have the background information necessary to successfully interact with prospects," he told CRM Buyer.
That's the promise of Salesforce's LiveMessage, which the company launched earlier this week, for example.
"The reality is that 1 to 2 percent of companies have real competency in AI in sales and marketing operations," Naimat observed.
Sixty percent of respondents to Demandbase's survey expected that AI would provide them with better insights into accounts.
Fifty-six percent expected more detailed analyses of marketing campaigns, while 53 percent expected AI to identify prospective customers, and 53 percent expected it to expedite daily tasks.
Fifty-nine percent said AI must generate a better sales close rate to be worth pursuing. Fifty-eight percent wanted it to increase revenues, 54 percent wanted it to improve website traffic and engagement, and 52 percent expected it to convert more leads.
The Coming AI Explosion
"The fact that 80 percent of respondents believe AI will revolutionize marketing but only a very few know how or are using it themselves yet is a perfect example of an industry on the cusp of exploding," remarked Gary Gerber, head of product marketing at Conversica.
The leading driver of AI in the sales lead conversion process is "the simple fact that it takes, on average, about a dozen follow-ups to engage a prospective customer, and most humans stop after two or three," he told CRM Buyer. "They're leaving the vast majority of their hard-earned leads on the table."
Only one-third of the companies Conversica's researchers contacted while posing as interested shoppers did not respond at all, according to the firm's 2016 Sales Effectiveness Report. More than two-thirds gave up trying to contact the researcher after two tries at most.
Integrating AI into existing technology was the top challenge for 60 percent of the respondents to the Demandbase survey. Training employees was the main concern for 54 percent, and difficulty in interpreting results was the major hurdle for 46 percent. Only 42 percent were concerned about the cost of implementing AI. AI and machine learning can transform what businesses know about customers, said Natalie Petouhoff, a principal analyst at Constellation Research. However, the technology "needs to mature [so] it's easily used by regular business users," she told CRM Buyer.
There's also the creep factor to consider.
"When is too much information infringing on people's personal lives and privacy?" Petouhoff mused. It "may differ from person to person, [which] makes it difficult to do mass personalization at scale."