Global Cyberconflicts and Hacktivism to Increase in 2016

December 2, 2015, Written By John H. Oldshue
Computer hacker silhouette of hooded man with binary data and network security terms

In the year ahead, security experts expect to see global cyberconflicts, hacktivism and disruptions during the 2016 presidential campaign, according to Experian’s third annual Data Breach Industry Forecast.

Experian’s Data Breach Resolution division handled more than 3,000 breaches in 2015 and interviewed leading security experts to predict issues we can expect in 2016. The top three concerns involve:

Cyberconflicts Between Countries

Hackers seeking financial data for personal gain are no longer the only threat to security. Nation-states will continue to take their conflicts and espionage efforts to the digital world to steal corporate and government secrets and/or disrupt military operations. While it may not be the primary target, these actions will expose the information of millions of individuals or release stolen business IP addresses. Large public-section data breaches may also increase, which will expose millions of personal records.

“This is new-age warfare and, as individuals, we need to pick up the pieces if we have been affected and our personal information has been exposed,” said Michael Bruemmer, vice president at Experian Data Breach Resolution.


In 2015, the hackers who attacked Ashley Madison claimed their strike was motivated by the fact that they found the company’s business practices unethical. The Experian report predicts there will be a resurgence of these sorts of activities, as groups and individuals attempt to damage the reputation of a company or cause. These acts also allow cybercriminals to steal information that can be used for blackmail or extortion.

“This was the new twist to the data breach landscape in 2015, with thieves leveraging stolen data to embarrass or harm companies,” said Bruemmer. “Unfortunately, consumers are the pawns in the game, and they are victimized in the process. By association with the attacked organization, they also can suffer personal harm or embarrassment if their information is exposed. If an organization has a polarizing or controversial mission, it should consider this scenario and how it will take care of its constituency should a breach occur.”

The 2016 U.S. Presidential Campaign

The 2016 campaign is already dominating the media, and it is likely that the candidates, their campaigns and/or their donor bases will be hacked. Information gleaned from these data breaches could possibly sway public opinion and negatively affect a candidate’s campaign, which makes it an attractive avenue for politically motivated attacks.

“We would be remiss if we did not mention this national occurrence as a possible target,” said Bruemmer. “For a fame-hungry criminal or motivated detractor, this is an attractive platform. It could happen with any activity on a national or global stage so leaders involved must ensure they are securing their systems and have incident response plans in place.”

The information contained within this article was accurate as of December 2, 2015. For up-to-date
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