At the end of every year, people are bombarded with articles predicting trends and events for the following year. Some of the predictions for the cyber security industry in 2018 are obvious – “cyber crime will rise” – and others provocative – “the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will bankrupt everybody” – but one thing’s for sure: most of them will be wrong.
We’ve trawled through hundreds of forecasts for 2018 to bring you the most intriguing and insightful.
1. Knock-on effects from 2017 will fuel cyber crime
Forbes went for a scattergun approach with its predictions, making 60. The most interesting came from James Scott, a senior fellow at the Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology:
“Sophisticated adversaries will leverage the granular metadata stolen from breaches like Equifax, [Oracle PartnerNetwork], and Anthem, in precision targeted attacks that rely on demographic and psychographic Big Data algorithms powered by machine-learning and artificial intelligence.
“Attackers will deploy armies of bots to propagate the false narratives used to weaponize malicious fake news, inflate partisan debates, and undermine democratic institutions; meanwhile, they will launch multi-vector [distributed denial-of-service attacks], ransomware, and malware campaigns to impede critical infrastructure cybersecurity and national security.
“The demographic and psychographic metadata will enable advanced spear-phishing operations against privileged critical infrastructure executives and pervasive Influence Operations against populations.”
2. Automation will make it harder to detect attacks
Security awareness company KnowBe4 also predicts that cyber criminals will use data stolen in 2017 to launch attacks in 2018:
“Phishing bots and intelligent scraping of social media and the Dark Web will make automated spear-phishing a very real, very hard-to-identify problem. The amount of data stolen in mega breaches over the past year – especially Equifax – makes it easy to automate mass spear-phishing emails that are both highly detailed and very effective social engineering attacks.”
3. Organisations will show off that they comply with the GDPR
Rosslyn Analytics provides a rare example of a level-headed prediction about the GDPR:
“Organizations will start to promote their compliance [with the] GDPR as a means to attract customers, employees and suppliers. However, a lack of GDPR certification will cause confusion within the market, resulting in false promises that will damage corporate reputations. Tread carefully.”
We believe that issue will quickly correct itself as customers learn which organisations to trust. The GDPR encourages data subjects to become more knowledgeable on data protection and their rights, so those organisations that fail to comply with the GDPR will soon be exposed. By contrast, organisations that provide data subjects with GDPR-compliant consent forms, respond promptly to data subjects’ requests and avoid embarrassing security incidents will strengthen their reputation.
4. Ransomware will become even worse
Another prediction from KnowBe4 states that ransomware, which became a major threat in 2017, will evolve in increasingly dangerous ways:
“We’ll see a rise in ransomware attacks that also exfiltrate data, allowing cybercriminals a second way to ransom data through the threat of exposure. Additionally, ransomware-as-a-service will continue to grow and will be the source of a significant percentage of attacks. Custom-made ransomware attacks will be reserved only for very high-value targets.”
KnowBe4 also predicts there will be long-term or lingering ransoms that will be “an ongoing nightmare for organisations and individual internet users alike. An example of this would be a ransomware attack that demands nude photos of the victim as payment, opening the door for continued blackmail”.
Ransomware is already terrorising organisations, so the prospect of more sophisticated attacks should fill senior staff and cyber security teams with dread. To tackle the threat, organisations need to address all areas of their business, including security policies, technical vulnerabilities and employees’ cyber security awareness.
It’s just as important to be prepared in case an attack is successful. Organisations that back up valuable data will be in a much stronger position in the event of a ransomware attack, and a cyber incident response plan will help resume business promptly.