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Top Emerging Tech Trends and Their Threats

One of the greatest, most intriguing aspects of this era in history is the speed with which technology is advancing. It seems now that by the time we finally feel we fully have a grasp on how a certain technology works, it has already become outdated, having been replaced by something even more cutting edge than ever imagined before. So what’s next? From advancements in Artificial Intelligence to the expansion of Extended Reality, we’ll take a look at a few of the most hotly anticipated trends in tech for 2020 and address some of the potential threats that they pose to the cyber world.

5G innovation means faster speeds, increased IoT connectivity, and more

5G is the most talked about tech trend for 2020. But what is 5G?

5G is the newest generation of mobile networks. The telecommunications industry promises that 5G will present the ability for all technology to become cordless. This provides the means for things like autonomous driving and entirely smart homes to have the potential to become reality far sooner than would be possible with 4G. However, the amount of infrastructural overhaul needed to make this commonplace means that we won’t be free from cords just yet. That facet of 5G is moreso a trend prediction for the 2020s rather than just this year alone. In the immediate future, 5G affords users with the benefits of increased network speed, lower latency (decreased lag time), and it also means big news for the world of IoT.

This newest generation of network will create an even more interconnected technological world as it will allow for increased connectivity between all Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Not only will the ability to connect with a far larger number of IoT endpoints increase, but the capability presented by 5G will allow for massive machine type communications, making for incredible advancements for Manufacturing and Supply Chain industries, among others.

The Threats

Because of the existing concerns with IoT security, there is obvious concern for increased vulnerabilities present in 5G technology. Over a third of those businesses questioned in an Accenture survey claimed that they have fears regarding the potential security issues that this new technology presents, admitting that users are anticipated to be the biggest weakest link. Not only this, but they believe that the implementation of 5G in their businesses will be difficult as determining the proper use cases and the security risks with each is of high concern.

The major challenge for businesses will in fact be ensuring that the devices utilized by their employees as well as the IoT devices at the other side of the various endpoints are secure. This will require constant monitoring of networks, continual strengthening of firewalls, and thorough education for employees on proper safety precautions. The new opportunities presented by 5G will also show unprecedented risks in cybersecurity space.

AI and Facial Recognition Software

From AI-as-a-Service (AaaS) to AI for monitoring and refining business processes, Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a whole is anticipated to be one of the major hotbeds for tech advancements in 2020. One of the most interesting, and dangerous, of these trends is AI and Facial Recognition Software.

For those with some of the newest generations of iPhone, facial recognition combined with AI, which is used as a way to unlock the phone, has already become a household technology. Businesses and governments alike are looking to utilize this technology to interpret common activities and behaviors in customers and citizens alike. From a governmental standpoint, AI Facial Recognition is hoped to become somewhat of a crime-fighting aid; this technology would allow for real time detection of people of interest in populated areas or detecting actions by individuals as being aggressive and then identifying who those people are to warrant an arrest, even if they get away.

The Threats

Due to the very 1984 feel of large entities trying to track our every move and have artificial intelligence learn our behaviors, it is easy to see why AI facial recognition combining can be a very daunting thing to face. Obvious threats that come to mind, including what could happen if the common behaviors of citizens were to fall into dubious hands. Additionally, hackers who potentially could gain access to this system could maliciously label certain individuals as being risky when they are not and vice versa. Cyber professionals will need to work diligently to keep up with this technology as it progresses as a matter of public safety to ensure these risks are not realized.

San Francisco has become the first city to ban this sort of technology, and it will be interesting to see what cities and states will follow as this technology increases.

Blockchain enters Social Media, grows quickly in Finance

Blockchain is the digital public ledger used to track the details of monetary transactions (the blocks) such as dates, dollar amounts, and participants. Because of the encrypted and decentralized nature of blockchain, it is as though there are built-in cyber protections, making it very attractive to companies looking to keep records without huge risk to their transaction information as it cuts out a lot of third-party interaction. Currently, many major companies are investing heavily in this technology to help protect their consumer transaction data, and it is anticipated that smaller companies will follow suit and join this revolution in the coming year as well.

Additionally, 2020 is posed to bring blockchain to social media to help address problems such as privacy violations and content relevance. The goal of those working to integrate the two worlds is for the power to be given back to the users of social media, allowing them to have more control over the ownership of their content. This allows for people to feel more secure when they log onto their social media as they control the experience more.

Not only is social media a major area of focus for blockchain technology, but we will see the finance industry lead the way in actually applying blockchain technology to the industry. According to a PWC report, “77 percent of financial institutions are expected to adopt blockchain technology as part of an in-production system or process by 2020.” Because the financial industry is essentially half of the backbone of blockchain being the original ledger-keeping industry, it will not take too much push to integrate finance and blockchain technology together.

The Threats

While blockchain technology is believed to be secure, the integration of blockchain with both social media as well as the finance industry will present potential risks. Additionally, if someone were to hack into your network where you utilize blockchain technology, your entire database would be wiped out, with an incredible amount of information lost. It will be up to cyber professionals to stay ahead of the cybercriminals as more and more industries adopt this technology.

Virtual and Augmented Reality in new industries

Before delving into the trends for these realities, it is important to distinguish the differences between augmented and virtual reality. Augmented Reality imposes small changes onto the real world whereas Virtual Reality gives the user a fully-immersive experience, usually in the form of goggles and sensors to create a new, virtual world. Both of these altered realities came into prevalence in the last decade. The last half of the 2010s brought Augmented Reality (AR) into our phones through things like the Snapchat dog filter and the interactive smart phone game Pokemon Go. Similarly, Virtual Reality (VR) became far more accessible to consumers as the 2019 holiday season saw the highest number of sales for products like Oculus Quest and other VR gaming systems. While the entertainment world is the main area where these altered forms of reality have hit the mainstream, 2020 could potentially bring them into the worlds of business and training.

Augmented reality is anticipated to continue to grow even further in the marketing industry such as social media filters with company and team filters, however, it is also anticipated to infiltrate other industries such as repair and maintenance to help mechanics and engineers utilize 3D overlay technology to improve their services to customers.

Due to the fact that it is far more affordable and fairly commonplace, virtual reality is anticipated to become a resource for companies in trainings. This would be especially beneficial in training employees in high-risk jobs where it can be difficult to recreate the real work environment safely — things such as teaching new fire fighters what it is like to try and save someone in a raging fire or having medical students learn how to operate without the risk of there being a human on the operating table.

The Threats

While these immersive technologies are bringing so many new opportunities to a variety of industries, there are also new threats created. Primary issues will be in the form of user error and lack of knowledge of proper security protocols, as well as hackers trying to get into the connection between Internet and the altered reality device. Because future threats will constantly be growing and adapting with these new technologies, cybersecurity professionals and users alike will need to be vigilant against any future threats as well.

Trends in technology are ever-changing, even more so than in any other industry. These trends and many others will impact us more and more as we gradually adopt new technologies into our daily lives. Staying current on the threats associated with these constant innovations and implementing defenses is the best way to stay secure.

Image by KJ Pargeter for Freepik