Predicting the Tech Future

Gibbs discusses Tech Prediction, a blog to track the future

For my recent column of predictions for 2013 I polled a huge number of IT people to see what they are expecting, and ended up getting more than 400 responses.

That made it tricky to choose what to focus on in that one January column, but a few areas stood out, including Big Data, Security and Cloud. But one of the interesting things was how many of the predictions cross over ... clouds and security, Big Data and clouds, security and Big Data ... it makes for the Venn diagram from hell.

I promised to make all of the predictions available and a week ago I launched Tech Predictions, a blog on which I'm publishing each prediction submitted. They're all categorized, tagged, and the author cited (except where anonymity was requested), along with the author's estimation of how likely the prediction is. You can also vote the predictions up or down and leave comments.

[ IN PICTURES: 10 cloud predictions for 2013 ]

Pretty much every prediction is thought-provoking and intriguing. For example, Leonid Shtilman, CEO, Viewfinity, a company that provides "privilege management and application control for desktops, laptops and servers," predicted:

The beginning of the end of the need for Windows anti-virus protection. This is predicated by the introduction of the Windows 8 operating system ... Enterprises will [increasingly adopt Windows 8 applications] based on Default/Deny [meaning, unless you specifically allow something you deny it], the same way that iOS apps are approved through the [Apple] App Store. [That will make it] ... harder and harder to write viruses for Windows. Just as we don't see malware and viruses prevalent on iOS because of this default/deny model, we will see less need for security for Windows apps.

A friend on Facebook asked if I agreed with this prediction and, while it's an interesting take on the future of endpoint security, I'm not sure. I would argue it is true that, with morphing malware becoming so sophisticated, the antivirus/anti-malware products we have today are, indeed, becoming less effective if not obsolete.

But while the explicit acceptance of screened applications and blocking of unauthorized apps sounds good, screening can't be anywhere remotely near perfect. The problem is that viruses can travel without apps ... data can also be a vector.

Thus, unless Microsoft plans to see the count of apps in their store increase at a snail's pace (and it only has 30,000 compared to the more than 1 million approved by Apple for iOS and OS X combined), by exhaustively verifying the safety of applications the company will have to trade off thoroughness for volume and that means that malware or vectors for malware can slip through.

I don't know about you, but when it comes to system integrity, I want a belt and braces strategy. Trusting a single vendor to do the job of protecting you is, at best, optimistic.

This is just one example of how predictions illuminate our thinking and strategies, and on the Tech Predictions site there are, as of this writing, 116 predictions with more than 200 other, equally intriguing ideas to be posted soon.

So far the leading prediction categories are Security, Cloud and Big Data, but there are predictions for Advertising, Analytics, Applications, Business, Collaboration, Communications, Data Center, Development, IT Strategy, Marketing, Mobile, Open Source, Productivity, Services, Social networking, Storage and Virtualization.

Let me leave you with a prediction that will make you ponder what the future is going to be like online. Mark Urban, senior director of product marketing, Blue Coat Systems, predicted:

In 2013, expect that most malware will come from large malnets that operate 'malware as a business model.' These infrastructures are highly efficient at launching attacks and highly effective at infecting users. As a result, malnet operators have built a thriving business. Their continued success at infecting computers indicates that they don't need a revolutionary breakthrough to continue making money, just on-going evolutionary adjustments. In 2013, expect them to refine their models and invest in the business to develop more sophisticated, believable attacks. By hiring translators and copy editors, malnet operators will be able to better create phishing emails that mimic the real page of a financial institution, for instance. They can also invest in more believable web sites facades and more comprehensive exploit kits that will make their attacks more believable, increasing the likelihood of their success.

If that doesn't make you pause and think about the future, I don't know what will.

If you have a prediction about IT as either a vendor or a user or, for that matter, a prediction about anything technology-related, go to the Make a Prediction page and fire away! If you think a prediction is good, vote it "up" or, if you don't vote it "down" and leave a comment.

Gentlemen, start your crystal balls ...

Gibbs wants to see the future in Ventura, Calif. Your view to gearhead@gibbs.com and follow him on Twitter and App.net (@quistuipater) and on Facebook (quistuipater).

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