More and more of our physical world is adapting to the digital space, and this is causing crime that once took place only in the physical realm to become increasingly prevalent in cyberspace. We have seen thousands of WordPress sites hacked, and malware spread through fake mobile phone towers; 2017 was littered with devastating cyber attacks which highlighted the urgency of increased cybersecurity.
The first step in preventing the damage these threats can cause is to prepare for them beforehand. With this in mind, it’s essential to ponder what we’ve already seen in order to assess the future of cybersecurity threats and trends. Here are five areas that are likely to be particularly prevalent in the coming months.
1. The onslaught of ransomware
Ransomware has been grabbing headlines more and more over the last couple of years. In 2017 alone, we saw a growth in ransomware that exceeded 2,500%, impacting private businesses, hospitals and individuals alike. There have even been instances of ransomware spreading to Mac and Linux computers, and even iOS/Android smartphones.
Unfortunately, the ransomware onslaught is far from over. Industry experts are generally in agreement that this type of malware will continue with its prevalence throughout 2018.
2. Large-scale data breaches and malware in the cloud
Not only is ransomware likely to continue its reign of terror; it is likely to increasingly do so from the cloud. Cloud computing corporations typically store vast amounts of data for companies, and this makes them prime targets for hackers and cybercriminals.
The biggest, most established cloud service providers like Amazon, Google and IBM generally have the resources and power to fend off successful cyber attacks, but up-and-coming cloud providers are far more vulnerable and likely to pay up if their customers’ data was held for ransom.
This ongoing battle over big data caches virtually guarantees that data breaches like 2017’s Equifax breach will continue to happen. By the end of 2014, some 500 million records had been exposed in total by breaches of data, but two years later that figure had come close to 600 million.
3. IoT, Botnets and DDoS
The Internet of Things (IoT) has come on in leaps and bounds, which has been phenomenal for innovation. It has played a huge role in the planning of transportation routes, the prevention of accidents, and even the design and development of the self-driving car. In our homes, Cortana, Alexa and Siri have made the ordering of things simpler and opened up a new era of voice control. ‘Smart’ devices like fridges and toasters are all connected to the internet. Unfortunately, every one of these connections is a potential doorway for hackers, and they tend to be quite light on security.
In 2016, hackers showed their power by using a large number of web-enabled devices to shut the internet down entirely for large parts of North America - this has become known as the Dyn DDoS Attack. The default security of many IoT products is not up to scratch, so it is up to you to take steps to minimise their vulnerability to malicious software.
4. Phishing, spam and social engineering
One of the leading causes of data breaches is human error, even in the last few years. Some experts even go so far as to suggest that social engineering and unpatched software can be attributed to 100% of attacks.
Social engineering continues to grow in complexity. Scammers might even use major data breaches that make the news to get their way into your company’s data. In the wake of those big events, other cybercriminals will begin to dish out emails posing as a financial institution asking you to verify personally identifying information (PII). Even people who are usually good at spotting a phishing scam might check to see if their bank had been targeted and end up falling for a scam. Scammers know that news stories of data breaches will help convince their victims of the authenticity of their email, meaning a significant number of people will go ahead with the suggested process.
5. Cyber warfare and election hacking
2018 has already shown signs of cybersecurity threats increasing in scale and sophistication, with significant damage being caused. What’s more, state-sponsored groups appear to be increasing interference with, and attacks on, the national infrastructures of countries, meaning essential services could come under strain and severely impact the lives of civilians. As national cyber attacks happen more often, there will be legitimacy for national cybersecurity teams, and cyber attacks will become increasingly recognised as an act of war.
Election hacking is the tip of the iceberg. If physical infrastructures are targeted and damaged, this could lead to entire city grids shutting down like something out of a Hollywood thriller. Legislations and government involvement are likely to increase in the foreseeable future.
At 247 Detectives, we like to practice what we preach, and cybersecurity is something we take very seriously. We would, therefore, like to assure you that our website has a new encryption certificate that marks a sophisticated approach to ensuring your privacy when you visit the site. Your right to privacy is paramount, and the data sharing and analytics of many areas of the web is losing sight of the fundamental right people have to their privacy. For us, strong security that protects your right to privacy is a founding principle we passionately pursue, so you can feel safe at all times when you browse our site.