The holidays in security: A New Year’s headache that nobody asked for – but everybody suffers

If the world’s IT community wasn’t already nursing headaches from their New Year’s celebrations – and the anticipation of a year in which cybercriminals are set to get even smarter about their attacks – things got worse quickly with the announcement of two security flaws that stem from issues in the hardware of Intel and other microprocessors built into billions of computers and mobile devices.

Security consultants were offering tips for protecting PCs from the Spectre and Meltdown flaws, while manufacturers were rushing out patches amidst warnings that the fixes could slow down devices by 20 to 30 percent – bad for any consumer device but massively problematic in cloud data centres.

Spectre and Meltdown will likely dominate the security landscape for months to come – at least until next month, when Australian companies are roughly ejected into a new regulatory regime where it’s no longer acceptable to cover up data breaches.

As well as increased regulatory scrutiny, pundits are forecasting key trends this year including state-sponsored attacks and cyber-heists that set new benchmarks for complexity and damage caused.

North Korea is likely to figure heavily in this year’s discourse, what with moves by the US, UK and Australia to officially blame the rogue nation for a spate of hacking attacks including last year’s disastrous WannaCry.

Some were wondering whether the finger-pointing was justified, but – with new cryptocurrency-mining Android malware ready to mine your phone to death, it’s clear that pretty much anything is on the table this year. Batten down the hatches and get ready.

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