Information security truisms: 2017 was the year of more cybersecurity – more attacks, more spending, more defenses, more breaches – and 2018 will see more of everything “cyber.”

In 2016/17, the Australian Cyber Security Centre reported that 7283 cyber security incidents affected major Australian businesses. It stands to reason then that we will see more of the same in 2018, with corporations, governments, public bodies and even political campaigns all likely targets.

Here’s more about what to expect in 2018.

  1. Ransomware will pivot from traditional extortion to new targets, technologies, and objectives

The profitability of traditional ransomware campaigns will continue to decline as vendor defenses, user education, and industry strategies improve to counter them. Attackers will adjust to target less traditional, more profitable ransomware targets, including high net-worth individuals, connected devices, and businesses.

The pivot from the traditional will see ransomware technologies applied beyond the objective of extortion of individuals, to cyber sabotage and disruption of organizations. This drive among adversaries for greater damage, disruption, and the threat of greater financial impact will not only spawn new variations of cybercrime “business models,” but also begin to seriously drive the expansion of the cyber insurance market.

  1. More Poor Security Practices

Brian Honan, president of BH Consulting in Dublin, says that for the past eight years, he’s opened the Irish Reporting and Information Security Service’s IRISSCON annual Cybercrime Conference in Dublin by calling out these five themes:

  • Poor passwords
  • Lack of patching
  • Out-of-date anti-virus software
  • Lack of monitoring
  • Using vulnerable and outdated systems

He predicts his themes will be the same for 2018, compounded by organizations continuing to use outdated technology.

  1. Privacy and data bonanza

The apparent appetite among some trusted security vendors for the monetization of user data in exchange for free antimalware software is set to persist into the next year. This will add to risks associated with data privacy, which is already under fierce attack given the endless trail of digital exhaust left behind by a plethora of (notably IoT) devices.

Such digital breadcrumbs can be collected to tell a story about us and, coupled with machine learning and artificial intelligence, that story could be used as a basis for manipulating our thoughts and actions. The data detritus should raise concerns of users as to what ‘free’ products or services actually entail and how the data being slurped are used.

While we hope for greater user awareness, we suspect that the stockpiles of data will expand dramatically next year with little awareness on the user’s part. We may not be able to put the toothpaste back in the tube, but we need to make informed decisions and choices lest our privacy be eroded further.

  1. More Endpoint Security Woes

One of the biggest outbreaks of 2017 was the May WannaCry ransomware attack.

“WannaCry could have been prevented if people just patched,” says Avivah Litan, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. But organisations remain challenged by patch management. “Endpoint security is different than IT management,” she says. Meaning that while it’s easy to roll systems out, it’s tough to take systems offline for maintenance or prioritize what needs to be patched.

The result is that there are a massive number of systems that have well-known vulnerabilities. No wonder that “80 to 90 percent of ransomware uses common vulnerabilities,” Litan says.

To help, she says all organizations should be using the “latest and greatest” anti-virus software, because the latest generations include much better detection and response capabilities especially for any product that’s tied to the cloud. “They’ll see the most benefits,” she says.

  1. Automation and orchestration

Even organisations who do have skilled security talent in-house find it very challenging to decrease the mean time to detect and the mean time to remediate security incidents. This is mainly due to the fact that communication workflows and extremely simple tasks slow things down.

In 2018, expect more and more organisations to turn to security automation and orchestration tools to overhaul internal processes and augment lines of communication.

Scope Logic Group offers Security Audits, Penetration Testing and Vulnerability Assessments that identify gaps in your systems and provide a clear roadmap on how to strengthen your defence against attack in 2018.

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