BLUE BELL, Pa., Dec. 20 (UPI) -- Security experts expect that 2014 will be "The Year of Encryption" for companies and organizations amid continuing fallout from the Edward Snowden affair.
"Regardless of what you might think of Edward Snowden, the former government contractor who leaked secrets about U.S. government surveillance, there is no denying that his disclosures have heightened awareness of cyber-security all over the world," said Dave Frymier, Unisys chief information security officer.
"Before that, many enterprises were running unencrypted data on their internal networks, which they believed were secure. Now they are beginning to use encryption internally as well, so we expect 2014 to be the year of encryption."
Snowden was a contract employee at the U.S. National Security Agency. He fled the country and found temporary asylum in Russia earlier this year after allegedly purloining thousands of government documents dealing with secret surveillance programs and then leaking them to the media.
The documents detailed NSA programs through which communications of U.S. citizens, citizens of other countries and governments, were being monitored. The result was an international uproar.
Disclosures that the U.S. government may have accessed data from the internal networks of major Internet service providers have already led some of these companies to expand the use of encryption within their own organizations, Unisys experts said, and "that activity will continue to grow in 2014, resulting in an explosion in the use of encryption tools."
Unisys said its experts also forecast that consumers will embrace fingerprint readers on the new Apple iPhone, leading to a broader acceptance of biometrics in general. The result would be a rapid growth in the use of biometrics on consumer devices to help protect the devices and their data as well as to confirm the user identities.
"The acceptance of biometrics will begin the evolution away from the traditional user ID/password combination used most frequently to verify online identities," Unisys said.
Unisys experts also predicted a rise in security awareness and protection techniques in BYOD, or bring-your-own-device programs, in which employees use their own mobile devices for work and use their own security measures -- often without their employers' knowledge.
"That opens up a whole host of issues around how enterprises deal with people having their own security on their devices, and how that interacts with the enterprise's ability to monitor and manage that device," said Steve Vinsik, Unisys' vice president for Global Security Solutions.
Unysis experts said software sandbox models, in which enterprises deploy mobile apps in an environment that is totally isolated from other applications, will continue to gain acceptance. Sandbox models will allow organizations to stop, start, install and uninstall corporate mobile apps without affecting other parts of the mobile device.