Exciting technology developments from the completion of Elon Musk’s giant solar battery in South Australia to the highly anticipated iPhone X have marked 2017 as a calendar year for technology in Australia. Here are six key technology trends for 2018 that are anticipated to have an even greater impact on Australian individuals, businesses and government in the relentless pursuit to increase efficiencies and enhance connectivity.
Biometric authentication is becoming more commonplace in everyday technology devices, including mobile phones and tablets. Fingerprints have been used to unlock phones for a few years now and have become quite accurate and relatively secure. Apple has included Face ID in the latest iPhone X, replacing fingerprints to unlock the phone. Apple estimates that the chances of another face matching and bypassing Face ID security is one in a million.
However, since the phone was released in November 2017, several stories have emerged of people using masks bypassing the recognition software. Apple maintains that iOS 11 is one of the most secure operating systems available to the public and that even if entry was forced to unlock the phone; a passcode is still required to do a forensic search.
This highlights the importance of always relying on two-step authentication. Best practice is to use biometric authentication as a first layer, which may provide instant access to some data, but a passcode should also be needed to unlock deep data. This will keep individuals protected in the event of hackers gaining access to biometric data through photos or forced entry.
Internet of Things (IoT):
Internet enabled devices are expected to continue their momentum in 2018 and connect even more everyday objects. IoT devices present some very serious security issues. Most IoT devices were never built to withstand even very simple cyber-attacks. Most IoT devices are unable to be patched or upgraded, and will therefore remain vulnerable to cyber hacks or breaches.
If compromised, IoT devices with security vulnerabilities can result in a range of issues, such as a simple denial of service, privacy compromises, major infrastructure failures, or even death. There are well-known methods of improving the security of IoT devices, such as implementing additional protection steps and processes, but these have other drawbacks, such as higher costs, and user inconvenience. Government regulation is needed to set national frameworks in place to ensure devices have minimum standards of protection.
Artificial Intelligence (AI):
Many vendors have jumped onto the AI bandwagon in order to build "smarter" systems that can detect and act on security threats, either before or very early after information has been compromised. I expect to see this continue in 2018, with computers becoming more intuitive and defensive.
This presents a strong opportunity for developers, with a growing demand for systems to be increasingly intelligent and alert to potential cyber risks.
Just as AI has the potential to boost productivity for businesses and government, hackers will look to AI to find vulnerabilities in software, with machine-like efficiency, to hack into systems in a fraction of the time it would take a human being. This and other scenarios make AI one of the key technology trends to watch and mitigate risk for in 2018.
Cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin has come on to the global agenda in 2017, and with it surging in value, it begs the question of how can owners ensure it is protected and legitimate?
Current cryptocurrency systems have significant issues with scale and performance, and may be susceptible to quantum computer attacks in the future. Cryptocurrency systems need to evolve to overcome these issues, and investors in cryptocurrency need to place more emphasis on the security strategies and systems in place at their providers or risk losing their capital overnight.
Many high-profile breaches in recent years have demonstrated the vulnerabilities of cloud computing and how it continues to be a significant issue. The ongoing question of how businesses and individuals can manage their data remotely while ensuring it’s protected will continue to resonate in 2018.
While many users will judge that the risk of data compromise does not warrant local control of information when compared with the benefits of convenience and low price of cloud services, a growing number of potential users will come to realise that for them, the risk of data compromise may be too high. This will be particularly true for government agencies, defence, intelligence, banking and finance, and legal services.
As the above technology trends continue to develop and infiltrate the core fabric of our everyday lives, individuals, businesses and government will be faced with the constant struggle between efficiency and security. This is especially true considering the onset of quantum computing which could overwhelm the capabilities of existing security measures.
As an expert in cybersecurity for QuintessenceLabs, I’ve witnessed how quantum technologies such as high-quality entropy, coupled with highly capable key and policy managers, which are the “work horses” of encryption, can even today provide a stronger security foundation. In the future, maturing quantum key distribution systems, incorporating free-space key exchange protected by the laws of physics and hence protected from quantum computing attacks, will provide a strong line of defence against these new quantum computing attacks.