Cybersecurity Watch – 2018

Published on: 11 Mar, 2018
Cybersecurity Watch – 2018

Now that the Internet of Things (“IoT”), big data analytics and artificial intelligence have become common, cybersecurity, particularly in these areas, has become part of daily life. Every year comes with its own set of cybersecurity challenges, and 2018 is no exception.

Ransomware has proven to be a potent threat. The harmful effects of ransomware are now commonly known, due to the prevalence of recent attacks. Even more ransomware attacks are predicted for this and coming years. Enterprises, understanding the nuisance of ransomware, are ready to invest more in ransomware defense. Backup mechanisms, patch management and system upgrades are likely to receive greater emphasis as they become keys for dealing with the threat of ransomware.

Customer data protection
Many applications and companies collect large amounts of customer data, with the goal of providing better services. However, this data is not often protected enough against attacks. As a result, recent attacks have seen customer data exposed or otherwise used without consent. 2018 is likely to see the creation of tougher regulations, such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), to try and ensure that consumer data is protected.

Data breach recovery
Despite implementing all possible security controls, attackers may still find weak links and cause data system breaches. Therefore, perhaps more important than data protection are methods to recover from a breach with minimum damage. For enterprises, this means not just concentrating on creating formidable defenses, but also on disaster recovery and business continuity mechanisms and procedures.
Lack of skilled cybersecurity professionals
Rapid advancements in information technology have made the field increasingly complex for laymen. Without a clear understanding of IT concepts and the necessary experience implementing those concepts, relying too much on IT may be counterproductive. Hackers, malicious applications and other negative forces with knowledge and expertise are actively working to take advantage of security loopholes.

Unfortunately, there is currently a wide gap between demand and availability of skillful cybersecurity professionals. As new technologies like blockchain, IoT, big data analytics and cloud computing continue to grow, this gap also continues to widen.

Patching and upgrading
Because unpatched systems are a common reason for successful attacks, patch management has become a critical point for cybersecurity. This year, companies are expected to pay special attention to patch management and keeping their systems updated.

Artificial intelligence
Artificial intelligence-enabled automation is now being used by cyber attackers. Spam and phishing messages can be delivered using chat bots. AI can automate information gathering on specific targets. Password dictionary and brute force attacks can be made more efficient when supported by AI. However, AI can also be employed to monitor attacks and correctly identify the source(s). The use of AI by both attackers and defenders is a significant trend to watch in 2018.

Cybersecurity insurance
The interest of insurance companies regarding cybersecurity is expected to rise this year. As different types of cyberattacks become more common and devastating, many enterprises are likely to opt for cyber insurance in order to address unpredictable attack scenarios.

Cyber war
The cyber landscape has become increasingly important for promoting viewpoints, national policies, propaganda, etc. Usage of cyberspace by nations with different agendas and interests can potentially lead to serious conflicts. While this is already beginning to happen, 2018 could see this trend further escalate and create a warlike situation in cyberspace.

Cryptocurrency attacks
Recent years have seen the rise of cryptocurrencies and other financial applications of blockchain. The biggest attractions to the technology are the lack of taxation, absence of a central control and use of anonymity. Very few governments have supported or promoted cryptocurrencies.

On the other hand, blockchain technology seems to have resolved the trust issue in financial transactions. However, while blockchain may thrive in 2018, cryptocurrencies are likely to see further scrutiny, as well as instances of attacks and frauds. 

As technology continues to play a growing role in daily life, cybersecurity has become increasingly necessary. Now more than ever, it is important to understand the cyber threats expected this year, as well as in the years to come.

About the Author
Abdul B. Subhani is the founder and President/CEO of Centex Technologies, an IT consulting company with offices in Central Texas, Dallas, and Atlanta. He is also an adjunct faculty member of the Texas A&M University - Central Texas computer information systems department. Abdul is a Certified Ethical Hacker, a Certified Fraud Examiner, Certified in Risk and Information Systems Control, a Texas Licensed Private Investigator, member of FBI Infragard, member of Forbes Technology Council and the recipient of multiple other advanced IT credentials. Abdul has been a frequent keynote speaker, moderator, and panelist at leading international technology conferences, and he has given speeches to thousands of students at colleges and universities.