Infosec 2013: Cyber threats unlikely to disappear, says security researcher

The past decade was the best for cyber defences but cyber security will still be a concern in another ten years, says F-Secure's Mikko Hypponen

Despite the past decade being the best so far for cyber defences, cyber security will still be a major concern in ten years’ time, according to Mikko Hypponen, chief research officer at security firm F-Secure.

The main reason for this is the emergence of gangs of organised cyber criminals and the entry of governments into the business of engineering malware for espionage and offensive purposes, Mikko Hypponen told attendees at Infosecurity Europe 2013 in London, where he was inducted into the Hall of Fame.

“If you had told me 22 years ago that governments would develop malware for espionage and offensive purposes, I would not have believed you, but here we are today and it’s a reality,” said Hypponen.

“If we were fighting the same kinds of malware producers that we were ten years ago when there was no money to be made out of malware, we would be winning.”

We have seen dramatic improvements in operating systems, alone, he said. “There is almost no comparison between the security of Windows XP service pack one, which most people would have been using in 2003, and Windows 8 in 2013.”

Hypponen believes that, as long as these two groups of state-sponsored and financially motivated malware producers are active, it is unlikely any computer system will ever be 100% secure.

However, he said working in information security is extremely rewarding, not least for the opportunity if provides to help people who would otherwise be unable to recover from malware attacks.

“Attacks are not extremely complex and there would be no way for the average end user to figure out what had happened or how to recover their data,” he said.

Information security professionals can respond to cries for help in concrete ways, which is a reward in itself, said Hypponen.

Read more on Hackers and cybercrime prevention