The week in security: IoT, bloatware and identity vulnerable in the year we fight back

An academic report slammed Australia's cybersecurity maturity and infrastructure protections as being well behind those of the US, while a joint venture between Macquarie University and Optus moved to address the country's lingering cybersecurity skills deficit.

This, as businesses continued to debate the CISO's correct position within the enterprise and CISOs continued to debate the proper posture around encryption and the right approach to security practices that often see compliance as an afterthought.

Observers of digital currency will watch with interest as the Australian government becomes the second country to ever auction Bitcoins that have been confiscated by authorities. Also on the financial beat, the US Federal Reserve reported that it had detected more than 50 cybersecurity breaches between 2011 and 2015.

A curious new malware strain was discovered to be manipulating the readings provided by industrial control systems, while an expansion in malware-extortion schemes reflected the new challenges of digital risk management and mitigation – and highlighted the growing tide of cyber-attacks that has some suggesting the next world war has already begun.

Little wonder 2016 has been flagged as the year we strike back. Identity and access management (IAM) continues to grow in importance amongst the enterprise and government hegemony – particularly in the cloud and mobile world – helping vendor Lockstep secured a US Department of Homeland Security grant for its technology, IAM is essential in controlling the Internet of Things (IoT) and for better managing humans – an exercise that, some are wondering, may be pointless as human error was revealed to be the biggest risk to healthcare IT security.

Indeed, the biggest security risks are the ones you don't even know to look for – such as the way that cybercriminals are tapping into social media to circumvent corporate IT-security defences. This trend has many organisations considering bug bounties and weighing up their response to cloud and mobiles even as the latter prove not to be as difficult in a BYOD context as was once thought.

Even as it was revealed that a Windows zero-day exploit can be had for $US90,000 and that 65m Tumblr account records are up for sale on online forums, messaging apps faced a clampdown as the Iranian government ordered messaging apps to store local users' data within the country.

The confession of celebrity hacker Guccifer shed light on the tactics used by cybercriminals, but ongoing ransomware attacks – and the revelation that 93 percent of all phishing emails now contain ransomware – are still raising the spectre of the risk from inadequate backup and business-continuity planning; indeed, experts agree, having a framework of IT policies is essential to any effective security plan.

A serious flaw in the WordPress Jetpack plug-in led to calls for quick updates by owners of sites running that platform, with a new exploit subsequently uncovered in the WP Mobile Detector plug-in. Also revealed as insecure were many laptops, whose vendor-provided update tools were recently evaluated and found to be a security disaster. And Lenovo advised users to remove preinstalled software from its laptops, begging the question of why it was put there in the first place.

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