Predictions 2017: Bigger IoT hacks, blockchain battles and a VR revival


As if 2016 weren’t volatile enough for the technology industry, the coming year is likely to be even more interesting, thanks to everything from a very unpredictable new U.S. president to a confluence of trends ranging from artificial intelligence to virtual reality to the continued rise of the cloud. This is the latest in a series of predictions by SiliconANGLE’s staff on what’s coming in 2017 in enterprise and emerging technologies and tech at large.

Hacking of Internet of Things devices will explode

In 2017, hackers will use flaky security in burgeoning Internet of Things devices and networks to commit more complex, and costly, distributed denial of service attacks. The IoT market expanded significantly in 2016 across multiple sectors, with an expected 24 billion devices to come online by 2020. Connected devices are already a ground-level source for hackers to commit DDoS attacks: In 2016, consumer home routers, digital recorders and cameras became part of the vast Mirai botnet.

The problem: Most IoT devices are designed to be “drop and forget,” with firmware and hardware set before shipment, meaning that a single flaw in device security opens up an entire crop of products to attack. Recent attacks on IoT devices are just the tip of a very large iceberg looming next year for industrial-scale IoT devices and networks, from connected cars to fleet and warehouse management systems. At this year’s DEF CON security conference, “white hat” hackers discovered 47 new vulnerabilities affecting 23 devices from 21 manufacturers, many of which will still be in effect in 2017.

Competition in blockchain financial technology will intensify as more startups get traction and established financial systems jump in.

The blockchain financial sector will see greatly increased competition as startups begin to collide with traditional banking systems such as Automated Clearing House. During the past two years, financial startups using blockchain technology to provide cheap and fast cross-border remittance working to supplant legacy systems including ACH, SWIFT and SEPA. Startups such as Wyre, Visa Europe Collab, Align Commerce and even think-tank R3 and its bank participants have been feeling out solutions. The industry is shifting so quickly, so even SWIFT has been developing blockchain solutions to stay ahead.

After a dud 2016, virtual reality will finally catch on as a killer app takes hold

After falling flat in 2016, virtual reality will catch up as prices drop and mobile VR entertainment catches on. VR was a difficult sell because the first generation of headsets were extremely expensive—running between $800 and $1,200—and required computer rigs that cost $2,000 to $5,000 to run on.

Now, improved mobile VR has a much better track record and is set to dominate next year as VR-enabled phones begin to saturate the market and headsets for mobile such as Samsung Gear VR and Google Cardboard remain cheap. Microsoft is also set to debut a much cheaper $300 headset in 2017 that’s more capable and has much lower system requirements. Last year, Pokemon GO put related market augmented reality on the consumer map. The killer app for VR will most likely come from a product line such as Google Daydream (above) by introducing consumers to cheap, comfortable and easy mobile VR.

Image credit: Daydream VR demo via Google