The rise of security threats is a trend that keeps climbing up the ladder. In 2017, we saw a lot more attacks in comparison to 2016. For example, Yahoo, the NSA, Uber, and Equifax all suffered from cyber-attacks and, of course, the infamous worldwide WannaCry attack targeting Windows users.
Now, will 2018 be better or perhaps even worse than 2017? In this article, I’ll take a look at the current trends and what we might see in the future.
Ransomware is an incredibly malicious threat with the power to encrypt sensitive files. It’s fairly impossible to decrypt the locked files unless you pay its creators a “ransom” to receive the decryption key. In many instances, the ransom has to be paid in Bitcoin or a similar cryptocurrency.
Of course, tech-savvy users might be able to bypass some types of encryption; however, the more advanced types, such as WannaCry, can’t be decrypted.
WannaCry reportedly damaged over 200,000 computers across 150 countries, which resulted in huge financial damage as well. Estimates stated that the total damages ranged from hundreds of millions to billions of dollars.
Malwarebytes study on ransomware, called “The State of Ransomware,” says that 67% of all the ransomware victims are tricked by opening malicious phishing emails.
According to Tom’s Guide, the costs for victims of ransomware attacks range from $300 to $700 dollars to receive the decryption key.
With that being said, the rise of ransomware is continuing to grow. Ransomware attacks grew by a whopping 36% in 2017. In addition, 43% of these attacks were aimed at small businesses. The Ponemon Institute reported that 77% of attacks that successfully compromised organizations in 2017 utilized file-less techniques.
Many experts believe this trend will continue to grow throughout 2018, as well as the sophistication of these ransomware attacks.
The growing incidents of government or country-sponsored cyber-attacks is a huge threat to any internet user. For example, in December 2017, the United States, United Kingdom, and Australia claimed that North Korea was behind the worldwide WannaCry ransomware attack.
The danger mainly lies in the fact that most of the government-funded attacks aren’t motivated by financial gain, but rather a political gain. Moreover, the Russian interference with America’s 2016 elections is still a hot topic and broadcasted often on the news.
The threat of these attacks in order to gain cyber-intel or create obstructions is worrisome, especially since it could lead to far greater threats and not just a cyber “war.”
China, Russia, the United States, Israel, and North Korea are mentioned in these conversations most of the time. The financial power translates itself into how advanced these threats are and how hard it is to protect yourself against it.
Some experts have even mentioned that they wouldn’t be surprised if these earlier mentioned countries have already penetrated foreign systems and are just waiting to pull the trigger to unleash a wave of attacks.
The Power of Artificial Intelligence
Microsoft is building an antivirus program based on artificial intelligence in response to the devastating WannaCry attack. The purpose is to build an antivirus that doesn’t rely on “recognition of code” based on what they already identified as a threat and stored on a database.
The development and effectiveness of this antivirus software is yet to be seen; however, it’s expected that well-funded hackers can create malicious software and slowly infiltrate systems (powered by artificial intelligence).
I believe that we might see a change in the development of antivirus and anti-malware protection, but also counterattacks of AI-generated cyber-attacks.
Internet of Things
The Internet of Things is growing extremely fast and almost everyone has at least one device that’s connected to the internet. In fact, 84% of U.S. citizens own at least one smartphone and 30% of U.S. citizens own 6 or more devices. This number will only rise going forward as growing economies will also be able to purchase IoT devices.
However, there are countless studies and reports available that discuss the vulnerabilities of the IoT and criticize how susceptible these devices are to cyber-attacks. Its main vulnerability is the interconnection between all these devices, which makes data storage and data transfers vulnerable.
Computing Resources & Infrastructure Systems
Throughout 2018, it’s expected that hackers will shift their focus to easy targets. This means hijacking computing power (mining gain), as well as infiltrate online infrastructures, computers in healthcare, electric companies, etc.
As we’ve seen during the WannaCry attack, most governments or institutions use old computers with outdated software. Sophisticated hackers feel like a kid in the candy store when they’re infiltrating these systems. In addition, power grids, water reservoirs, and water-filtering companies run old software that can be manipulated easily and hackers can take control.
About the Author:
Bill here from PixelPrivacy.com. My blog is all about making the world of online security accessible to everyone. I pride myself in writing guides that I’m certain even my own mom could read! Be sure to head over to my blog if you’re interested in keeping your private information just that: Private!