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2017 to usher in new wave of cyber attacks

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Businesses should brace for “full-on” cyber attacks next year, particularly if they are part of the critical infrastructure that provides essential services related to the nation’s economy, security and health, a study warns.

This year “we will see new operations made public that use cyber attacks as an outright offensive weapon,” says the study by Experian Data Breach Resolution, a unit of Costa Mesa, California-based Experian Information Solutions Inc., in its fourth annual 2017 Data Breach Industry Forecast, released Monday.

“Unfortunately, until there is clear international agreement regarding rules of engagement in cyberspace, these attacks are likely only going to increase and escalate,” says the report.

Other predictions in the report were:

• “Aftershock” password breaches, as corporations face the impact of previous data breaches from attackers continuing to sell old username and password information on the dark web, will be an emerging trend. Experian said companies should push for two-factor authentication to verify users, which helps solve the problem of reused passwords.

• Health care organizations will be the most targeted sector, with new, sophisticated attacks emerging. Experian also predicts that “mega” breaches will move on from focusing on health insurers to other aspects of health care, including hospital networks. Meanwhile, ransomware will continue to be a top concern.

• The uneven adoption of the new chip technology on credit cards, combined with attackers targeting new industries such as smaller franchised stores and adapting their tactics, means payment attacks will continue to be a problem for companies.

 • The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation “will cause big headaches” for multinational companies. “Given the high stakes in an international breach and the lack of preparedness, we expect that at least one United States multinational company will experience a significant loss in its valuation due to an international data breach in 2017,” says the report.

The report says other trends to watch include virtual reality and augmented reality creating new tools for hackers, and Internal Revenue Service tax scams impacting the 2016 tax season because of employee negligence.