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Posted by A-Jay Orr

4 Cybersecurity Predictions for 2018 That Will Keep You Up at Night

As technology grows smarter and more powerful, so do the people who use it illegally. The truth is, we are right in the middle of a cybercrime gold rush! Advancements like the Internet of Things and Artificial Intelligence are undeniably exciting. But we’re still figuring out how to harness the power of this technology safely, which is creating a land of opportunity for criminals. One way experts are working to manage this problem is by trying to stay one step ahead of the next big cybersecurity threat. Today, we’re sharing four chilling predictions that affect every single one of us (unless you live off the grid in a cave). Readers beware…

 

1. Cybercriminals will find new ways to exploit IoT devices.

IoT devices aren’t always designed with security in mind. Digital security cameras, Gaming systems, Smart TVs, and appliances…many are built using insecure communications protocols, junk code, and hard-coded backdoor passwords, which makes them increasingly susceptible to attack. As the everyday use of this technology proliferates, the attack surface for cybercriminals is getting larger.

Case in point, the Mirai Botnet disaster of 2016. Mirai Botnet is a malware strain that infected millions of DVR devices. This attack resulted in widespread Denial of Service (DoS) that shut down huge segments of the internet, including Twitter, Netflix, and Reddit. Since 2016, malware like this has made leaps and bounds. Newer iterations can use a device’s communications protocols to spread an infection to other devices — resulting in massive IoT attacks that spread like a viral plague.

Attacks don’t stop there. Cybercriminals are also hacking smart home appliances like Alexa and Amazon Echo, turning these devices into wiretaps that they can use to listen in on private conversations. Experts believe that this is an attempt to gain experience that will enable cybercriminals to infiltrate larger networks, like the US Government.

 

2. BEC scams will exceed $9 Billion.

Business Email Compromise (BEC) is a common form of CEO fraud that exploits a corporate email account and assumes the owner’s identity to defraud the company. Less than a year ago, the FBI reported total losses due to this scheme at around $5.3 Billion. Experts predict that this year will exceed $9 Billion.

We’re talking about a $3.7 Billion spike in less than 12 months! What makes this type of cybercrime particularly frightening is its execution. BEC scammers don’t use malicious software or other hacker tools. They use psychological manipulation also known as “social engineering”. Criminals deceive employees by acting as trustworthy entities to glean bits and pieces of personal information. This information is then used to carry out damaging attacks that often cost people their jobs and companies their reputation.

 

3. Cyber-propaganda campaigns will increase in frequency and quality.

2017 became the year of “fake news” and triggered a new era of terrorism that uses propaganda to threaten democracy. False information, fake pictures, and armies of “trolls” were hired to spread propaganda on blogs and social channels. The object of the game is to recruit, influence and inspire action in favor of malicious intent. For example, Russia’s involvement in America’s 2017 presidential election, which possibly resulted in skewed perceptions about our candidates. Sadly, experts predict that this trend will continue, especially as countries like Africa, Asia, Europe, North America, and South America hold their own presidential elections in 2018.

 

4. Cybercriminals will use AI to carry out attacks.

We are up against a nightmarish catch-22. Innovative technology helps us live and work more efficiently. Likewise, it also helps criminals attack with greater sophistication and stealth. A dream team comprised of experts from Oxford, Cambridge and Yale produced a report called The Malicious Use of Artificial Intelligence. This report is based on current and probable AI technology we can expect to see over the next several years. In the most basic sense, AI technology will make cyber attacks easier for criminals and more effective. Automation will enable criminals to carry out more attacks with less effort. And all of this could give way to a tsunami of personal data theft, intelligent computer viruses and more.

My advice? Stay connected to cybersecurity news and keep all of your devices up-to-date. Do not purchase “jailbroken” devices or devices from obscure overseas vendors. Establish trusted sources for your online information and start asking yourself questions instead of believing everything you hear. If you are a business leader, make security training for your employees a top priority this year. There are numerous cybersecurity programs that will help reduce your risk of becoming the next statistic.

I get it. Technology is overwhelming enough without having to worry about attacks coming from every possible angle. You can start small by subscribing to our blog. We promise not to blow up your inbox. What we will do is keep an ear to the ground for you, share the most important information up front, and make tech talk easy for you to understand.