Adapting isn't an option for cyber security professionals; it's a necessity. The growing use of social media and the Internet of Things (IoT) means that 2019 will bring new challenges and opportunities for cyber security professionals.
Trends Shaping Cyber Security
Current trends within cyber security are likely to shape much of 2019. A CSO article predicts a continued downward trend in the use of ransomware. The malicious software locks computers or threatens to publicize a victim's data unless a ransom is paid. The criminal technique has been popular in recent years among hackers and even nation states like North Korea. CSO staff predict that ransomware will taper off as criminals shift to other forms of generating revenue. It will still be a problem but largely in "focused, targeted attacks."
CSO's predictions are backed by data from the anti-virus software provider Kaspersky Lab which found that the "total number of users who encountered ransomware fell by almost 30 percent from 2,581,026 (between 2016 and 2017) to 1,811,937 (between 2017 and 2018)."
Kaspersky Lab staff believe that the fall in ransomware attacks is linked to an uptick in attempts to steal cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin. The Daily Swig, an online web security digest, highlighted the danger posed by the growth of cryptocurrency mining.
Citing data from the cyber security firm Trend Micro, the article said crypto-mining attacks in the first half of 2018 rose by 956 percent compared to the same period in 2017.
Jon Clay, global threat communications director at Trend Micro, told The Daily Swig that companies will "see an increase in targeting of owners of cryptocurrencies, or the exchanges themselves, as the opportunity to steal more coins is higher here than the prospect of mining coins."
Software company Check Point found that 42 percent of organizations worldwide were impacted by cryptocurrency mining during the first half of 2018 — more than doubling the number of attacks recorded the year before.
While hackers pivot their attacks to maximize profits, local software developers are gearing up. Microsoft recently announced that it will include its Advanced Threat Protection (ATP) technology on purchases of Windows 10 that include an E5 license. The new technology allows users to review what an attacker did to a computer system.
"With the next update to Windows 10," Microsoft blogger Mollie Ruiz-Hopper said, "we are further expanding Windows Defender ATP to provide richer capabilities for businesses to improve their security posture and solve security incidents more quickly and efficiently."
Another key development in the quest for better cyber security is the growing automation of cyber breach detection. A CSO article noted, "Every skilled security analyst whose work includes threat hunting follows a predictable process. Software can apply these same strategies and tactics."
Automating threat hunting, the article said, should focus on three key areas: event analysis, factor identification and data enrichment.
Cyber Security Risks for 2019
IoT technology has simplified many aspects of life. For millions of Americans, virtual assistants like Alexa make playing music as easy as a few verbal commands. But these smart devices are increasingly susceptible to online hacking. Numerous reports and presentations by technology companies across the globe have recently brought those risks to light.
An IoT For All post said, "If the IoT revolution is going to succeed, we need to have a robust regulatory framework in place to ensure that device manufacturers adhere to minimum, mutually intelligible IoT cybersecurity standards. We should also standardize device-level security protocols to ensure that each network element is part of a general strategy for combating common threats. We can't afford to leave any weak, low-level links unguarded."
Another looming online danger, spear phishing, presents new challenges for cyber security professionals. This cybercrime technique is more targeted than traditional phishing methods. By focusing on individuals with emails from a seemingly trustworthy source, such as a friend or coworker, the malware is better able to infiltrate a targeted user's computer.
But the greatest threat facing online security may be the looming shortage of cyber security professionals. According to data compiled by Cybersecurity Ventures, "The cybersecurity jobs forecasts have been unable to keep pace with the dramatic rise in cybercrime, which is predicted to cost the world $6 trillion annually by 2021, up from $3 trillion in 2015."
Online attacks against businesses and governments are on the rise while qualified cyber security specialists are in short supply. The online Master of Business Administration with a concentration in Cyber Security Management from St. Thomas University prepares graduates to meet the burgeoning threat through courses on risk management, network security, operating systems protection, cyber security technologies, cryptography and more. The courses, taught by STU faculty, can be completed in as few as 10 months.
Learn more about the STU online MBA with a concentration in Cyber Security Management.
CSO Online: 9 Cyber Security Predictions for 2019
CSO Online: How to Automate Threat Hunting
KSN Report: Ransomware and Malicious Cryptominers 2016-2018
The Daily Swig: Crypto-Mining Attacks Are on the Rise
Checkpoint: Cyber Attack Trends: 2018 Mid-Year Report
Microsoft: New Capabilities of Windows Defender ATP Further Maximizing the Effectiveness and Robustness of Endpoint Security
IoT For All: Cybersecurity Challenges Could Make or Break IoT
Cybersecurity Ventures: Cybersecurity Jobs Report 2018
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