Just when we thought that 2017 was the bottom of the barrel from a cyber security point of view, 2018 proved to be even worse. Not only did we have to endure two infamous bugs that effected 90% of devices using a processor, but 2018 also saw a rise in major data breaches that involved giants like Facebook and Google. And we haven’t even mentioned all those viruses and malware that caused major disruption in numerous services and further eroded users’ belief in a safe digital environment.
Thankfully, we aren’t quite near a digital apocalypse just yet, but these instances show that we have to be extra careful and that we shouldn’t take anything for granted. That’s why it’s best to take a look at what could be the biggest cyber threats against average users in 2019 and what could be done to prevent them from happening.
Cryptojacking on the Rise
Although the cryptocurrency craze is declining due to the fact that they lost most of their value in 2018, that doesn’t mean that they will be going away anytime soon. In fact, since they aren’t as valuable anymore, miners will be even more desperate to mine cryptocurrencies in order make a profit.
Nobody could have thought that ransomware would top 2017’s WannaCry. However, having seen in 2018 what malicious programs can achieve, it’s safe to say that they are more threatening than ever. One of 2018’s biggest threats, VPNFilter, turned out to be especially dangerous, as it was capable of sniffing out sensitive user data and carrying out cyber attacks at the same time by using network vulnerabilities. Additionally, ransomware also started to target business sectors more often, the most particular example being SamSam, which proved to be near lethal for healthcare institutions.
As such, an antivirus with proper antiransomware protection is a must, though if the software also comes with ransomware shield for important files and folders as well as the option to back up files to an encrypted cloud storage then you’re certain to be safe.
IoT in the Crosshairs
As more and more devices become capable of connecting to the internet, the more they will become potential targets in the eyes of wrongdoers. And how serious is the threat? Just for comparison, in 2017 Kaspersky Lab reported less than 40,000 malicious apps programmed to target IoT devices, a number that has risen to over 120,000 in just the first half of 2018. And there is no sign of this increase stopping: not only is user ignorance when it comes to the security of these devices a constant issue but, as Meltdown and Spectre have proven, these devices can easily fall victim to supply chain attacks, too.
The good news is that taking the necessary security measures isn’t complicated at all; all it requires is to change the default password of each device, keep their firmware up-to-date at all times, and check your network’s vulnerability – something that can actually be performed with certain antivirus suites.
More Sophisticated Phishing Methods
Even if phishing is still a considerable threat, spotting and averting such attempts is pretty easy. When AI is involved, however, things get a devilish twist. In terms of phishing, the involvement of AI means that wrongdoers will be able to create messages that can perfectly mimic the tone and vocabulary of real-life people. And since we’re entering the age of deepfake – where disturbingly convincing videos will be more frequent – battling phishing attempts will become increasingly tougher.
But just as fire can be fought with fire, so can AI be used against AI-aided phishing. Although a good defense against phishing attempts will always require the attentiveness of users, most modern antivirus apps can also recognize threats even if they haven’t been added to virus databases yet thanks to machine learning, which means antivirus tools can gradually improve via their own ‘experiences’.