After eight weeks of thrills and spills, Trend Micro’s ground-breaking web video project 2020: the Series finally draws to a close on Tuesday in spectacular style. It’s been our aim as a global leader in information security for the past quarter of a century to get more of you out there thinking about what our society might look like in the years to come, and how cyber criminals may try to bring it down.
Thinking about our cyber future is what Trend Micro does for a living. It’s how we became the first to offer our customers comprehensive protection across servers, networks, gateways, mobile devices and cloud and virtual environments over the years. However, the debate over future cyber threats is too often focused inwards, limited to the security industry, so we wanted to get all internet stakeholders to start focusing on what might happen at the end of the decade.
The result was 2020: the Series – a fictional tale in nine short episodes set in the Republic of South Sylvania. This technologically advanced nation is one vision of how our society might look, if we become fully reliant on connected technologies. Citizens consume content on hi-tech headsets or beamed directly onto special contact lenses by their content service providers. An “internet of everything” allows businesses to operate more efficiently and offer customers innovative new services. At the centre of everything is The Switch, an authentication hub which allows citizens to switch securely between their many online profiles and content service providers, each jump changing the way they perceive and interact with the world around them.
Unfortunately for South Sylvania the nation is left ruing this reliance on hi-tech systems. On the eve of the country’s first all-digital elections a huge cyber attack designed to steal the voting public’s personal data takes out The Switch. Banking, transport, healthcare and e-government services collapse as users cannot authenticate their identities or switch between profiles. Casualties mount, politicians blame each other and under-fire law enforcers desperately try to track down those responsible.
Episode 9 concludes the series in dramatic fashion as police discover that what was first assumed to be a hacktivist attack, and then pegged on a financially motivated cyber criminal, may actually have been launched with far more sinister motives in mind. As the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle gradually fall into place, South Sylvania dusts itself down and finally gets back online, but at what cost?
2020: the Series might be an extreme version of events but we have to start thinking about worst case scenarios if we’re to be fully prepared for what the bad guys might throw at us. An internet of everything is already emerging across the globe, while wearable technology and personalized advertising and content is also a reality, albeit still at an early stage of development.
Spotting trends, future proofing our products
Trend Micro is already thinking about ways to protect this brave new world so we can future proof our next generation of products and react quickest when trouble appears. As internet-based technologies become more and more immersed into the fabric of society, securing the joins between services, applications and networks – which is where they are most vulnerable –will be key.
Next month Trend Micro will be releasing our predictions for 2014. It’s all part of this on-going process of anticipating the evolving threat landscape to better protect our customers. We can expect mobile banking to come under greater attack from man-in-the-middle campaigns; at least one major data breach every month; and more clickjacking and watering hole-based targeted attacks. Law enforcers will struggle to find the perpetrators as they bury themselves in the Dark Web, while major efforts will be undertaken to restore privacy and public trust in a post-Snowden world. There will be no major internet of things-related threats in 2014, but as augmented reality takes off, this possibility drawn menacingly closer.
In the end the best way to protect our privacy and our data given this volatile, ever-changing threat landscape is for individuals, businesses, educators, governments and law enforcers to stay alert and adopt a proactive, forward-looking and collaborative stance.
We hope 2020: The Series has helped in this and made you think a bit more about our shared cyber future. If you enjoyed it, why not share it with friends, family and colleagues to spread the message? Thanks for joining us on the journey.
Let’s make sure when the future arrives we’re ready for it.