By Jon Condra, Director of East Asian Research and Analysis, Flashpoint
Few would say that 2017 was an uneventful year in the realm of global geopolitics, and this year is already shaping up to be fraught with similar volatility. As such, organisations seeking to proactively combat relevant threats and address enterprise-wide risk must regard geopolitical context as a core component of their intelligence programmes.
This is why Flashpoint is pleased to introduce the third edition of its biannual Business Risk Intelligence (BRI) Decision Report. By providing a forward-looking assessment of the 2018 geopolitical landscape, the report is designed to help security and risk decision-makers anticipate emerging threats while accounting for existing mitigations. Key themes of the report include:
Assessing the Evolving Geopolitical LandscapeFueled by a highly polarized political climate, jihadists and other extremists continue to use the internet as a platform for growing their sphere of influence. Several nation states, meanwhile, are restricting internet access within their borders, while other countries are responding to economic pressures from the West by waging targeted attacks. In many regions, ongoing political tensions pose the ever-present threat of cyber and physical warfare. Trends and indicators for decision-makers to watch in 2018 include tensions in East Asia over the North Korean nuclear programmes, the impact of official U.S. policy changes on the Iranian nuclear accord, U.S. and European Union-led economic sanctions on Russia, and other nation-states’ adoption of the Russian model of engaging in cyber influence operations. Meanwhile, the power struggle between Saudi Arabia and Iran for influence in the Middle East fuels ongoing conflict within the region, as does the continued instability and violence in Syria.
Evaluating the Cybercriminal Ecosystem
Despite recent setbacks stemming from the takedown of AlphaBay and Hansa Market, financially motivated cybercriminals remain an active presence on the Deep & Dark Web (DDW). Cybercrime remained a persistent problem in 2017, with several mega breaches affecting millions of individuals, a resurgence of payment-card system breaches, and a series of high-profile ransomware attacks.
Understanding the significance of recent developments shaping the inner workings of the DDW is crucial to anticipating impending shifts in the cyber threat landscape. Cybercriminals have demonstrated resilience in their ability to continuously develop new ways to circumvent security protections, resulting in billions of dollars in damages for organisations around the world. From efforts to circumvent EMV chip technology to the popularisation of ransomware, noteworthy trends observed in the cybercriminal underground in 2017 will have a profound impact on the 2018 threat landscape.
Measuring Cyber and Physical Threats
Threat actor groups are remarkably diverse in terms of their preferred tactics, motives, and the industries they target. In order to run an effective intelligence operation, decision-makers must understand which threat actor groups pose the greatest risk to their organisation. However, given the complexity of the current geopolitical landscape and the increasing overlap between cyber and physical threats, it can be challenging for defenders to grasp the totality of what they’re up against.
To help organisations gain comprehensive visibility into the current geopolitical and cyber threat landscape, the BRI Decision Report: 2017 End of Year Update includes:
- An overview of bellwethers that may prompt major shifts in the geopolitical threat landscape
- In-depth profiles of the capabilities of key nation states and threat actor groups
- An updated Threat Matrix assessing the potential impact of various threat actors by industry vertical
For our full analysis of the global geopolitical and cyber threat landscape, download theFlashpoint BRI Decision Report: 2017 End of Year Update.