2013 was already an exhausting year for ‘cyber-defenders’, but 2014 could see developing technology sectors come under determined attacks from computer hackers and info pirates.

E-Health and IoT Prime Targets for Hacker Attacks in 2014?

HealthCare.gov,, the United States federal website which contains large amounts of personal health data and is the cornerstone of the ‘ObamaCare’ medical programme, will suffer at least one data breach in 2014. This at least is among the warnings set out in a report from US network security products provider Watchguard. In addition to the obvious political dimension of Obamacare, which is bound to attract hackers, the sheer amount of data and interaction that the system will generate makes this website a choice target. In fact security researchers have already detected attempted, though unsuccessful, attacks on the site’s web applications and have pointed out minor security issues. While Watchguard is not actually recommending that citizens avoid using the website, the IT security solutions provider believes that hackers will nevertheless find a way to breach the site’s security.

IoT: hacker nirvana

Watches, cars, healthcare and well-being devices, home appliances and many more applications… the Watchguard report points to the almost unlimited range of hacking opportunities now provided by the Internet of Things, opportunities which computer hackers have not failed to spot. In fact IT experts believe that with the seemingly endless proliferation of connected accessories, the IoT is about to become a playground for hackers. Whether just curious or genuinely malicious, hackers are now being drawn to this field. IT security experts have been warning of the risks for some time now and the market seems to be scrambling to make up lost ground as the so-called ‘third act’ of the Internet – the era of connected devices – unfolds.

Ill-suited defence mechanisms

The vulnerable areas that experts were pointing out in 2013 were mainly due to defence mechanisms that were ill-suited to the current realities. In fact the majority of firms still depend on the use of firewalls that are now proving ineffective. Moreover, these security controls are often incorrectly configured, with 95% of firewall breaches apparently due to misconfigurations. Last but not least, IT managers are “drowning in oceans of security logs, making it impossible for them to recognise the important security events that they need to react to,” says Watchguard. 2014 will therefore be ‘The Year of Security Visibility’, in which more emphasis will be placed on deploying security visibility tools, predicts the report. Such tools help to quickly identify security-related issues and highlight the most important security trends in order to help IT managers make crucial decisions.

By Pierre-Marie Mateo