2017 has already went down in history as the year in which information security spending reached a whopping $86.4 billion, the biggest number thus far. As experts predict that cybercriminal might cost the world around $6 trillion per year by the end of 2020, we cannot but notice that exploits, data breaches, and other online security issues are growing even more frequent and alarming as we speak.
Here’s what to look out for in 2018 and beyond.
Worms Will Spread Malware Much Farther
Worms spread malware really fast, as we’ve learned from this year’s Trickbot and WannaCry attacks. With these and similar worm-equipped threats becoming more sophisticated at an astounding speed, it wouldn’t surprise us if cybercriminals made this technique virtually unnoticeable in 2018.
Leaked Exploits Will Show More Vulnerabilities
With or without worms, malware will most certainly continue to endanger our security systems. One leaked exploit is enough to reveal a number of unpatched vulnerabilities, thus making individuals, businesses, and public agencies exposed to attacks. Whatever system you use, remember to update.
Malware Attackers Will Become Better at Targeting
Unfortunately, updates will not suffice if your systems store information that may be of value to cybercriminals. Sensitive data, particularly if held for business purposes, will make profitable organizations and companies the main target for malware attacks over the course of the next year.
Malware will surely become more targeted, which doesn’t mean that small businesses won’t be in danger as well. Cybercriminals will probably shift their focus to less protected victims that are in contact with the top dogs, and use them as a way to bypass security measures and reach bigger and more lucrative targets.
PowerShell-Based Attacks Will Compromise More Data
Speaking of ways to steal valuable information from top organizations, 2017 has seen a number of successful PowerShell-based cyber threats. Being installed on Windows operating systems by default, and being almost impossible to identify, PowerShell has grown into a powerful new attack platform against WOS.
In one of these attacks earlier this year cybercriminals had stolen a copious amount of information from the Saudi Arabian government. The attackers sneaked into a government computer using a macro in Microsoft Word, and infected it with an information-stealing Trojan. No doubt this will happen again pretty soon.
Ransomware Attacks Will Increase
PowerShell-based attacks are not dangerous only because they cannot be easily identified, but also because they aim to maintain persistence on a targeted device for quite some time before being detected. This is ideal for holding a victim’s data for ransom and exporting large amounts of money.
Be they PowerShell-based or not, similar ransomware attacks will only get worse. Though individuals probably won’t be targeted, industries like healthcare most certainly will. Attackers will continue to avoid protected organizations such as banks, and try to profit on less protected public organizations.
Spear Phishing Will Endanger Email Channels
The type of cyberattack that will remain focused on individuals is spear phishing, especially via email. With targeting and spoofing techniques now being able to evade most kinds of email authentication, businesses won’t be safe either. In 2018, unsecured email actions will pose a big threat to all of us.
Cryptocurrencies Will Make Cryptojacking Very Lucrative
CNBC recently published a story of a Dutch family selling all of their assets in return for bitcoins. Cryptocurrencies are bigger than ever before, which means that cryptojacking will be one of the most attractive techniques for cybercriminals in 2018. If you’re buying bitcoins, be sure to keep them safe.
The Cybercriminal Industry Will Further Evolve
Whether because sophisticated tools are now available to everyone, or because we still don’t know how to properly protect our systems, the cybercrime industry is currently at an all-time high. With ransomware alone earning around $1 billion last year, cyberattacks are now becoming an attractive and easy way to make a living. This won’t change in 2018; in fact, the industry is expected to grow.
Until our systems and protocols regain the advantage they once had over online security threats, we can only rely on ourselves to use the internet and our smart devices in a responsible way. What we should do in 2018 to stay protected is spread awareness, invest in IT education, and stay vigilant.