ith the new year looming, all of the Top 10 lists for 2017 are coming out, so we asked our team what does 2018 have in store in regards to cybersecurity. The new year looks grim.
2017 showed the world that hackers have gotten better. Last year, numerous attacks were front-page headlines including the WannaCry Ransomware, NotPetya, Gmail Phishing Attack, and the Netflix Phishing Scam. Plus, Equifax, Deloitte, Verizon, Yahoo, and Uber had large-scale data breaches effecting millions of people worldwide.
Gone are the days when you could easily spot an email scam such as an African prince that needed to deposit money in your banking account, or a long-lost European relative that left you ungodly sums of money. Also, you don’t have to run a large-scale, well-known enterprise to worry about hackers; every company is a target, regardless of size. Most hackers utilize bots to surf the internet looking for “open windows” on networks, and they usually find those openings at SMBs (Small and Medium-Sized Businesses) because they don’t have a good IT firm securing their network.
Furthermore, as the cost to implement large scale attacks decreases due to automation, the business of cyber-attacks gets more lucrative, appealing, and easier, meaning attacks will continue to grow.
5 Cybersecurity Trends to Watch in 2018
- Social Engineering – As companies strengthen their network security, hackers must get savvy and do investigative research to learn more about you to get you to lower your guard in order to penetrate your security systems. For example, a hacker will find you on LinkedIn, and based on your job title, the hacker will also find a colleague that you probably interact with daily and send a message pretending to be that colleague to get you to open an attachment, click a link, or just interact with so often that your address book changes the email address associated to that person’s name to the hacker’s spoof email.
- Fileless Attacks – With IT continually tightening and fortifying companies’ networks, hackers found a simple way around spam filters, web filters, and anti-virus programs – hackers send simple emails, leave voicemails, or even send snail mail trying to get you to do an action like the social engineering technique. Many times, this technique coincides with social engineering, but some hackers skip the investigative work required for social engineering to be effective and instead work off volume. If .01% of 100,000 users that the hacker mailed a postcard to with an amazing offer type in a website link, then the hacker still gets 1,000 viruses installed on just as many networks.
- Rogue Devices – A more hands-on approach to hacking is using rogue devices to infiltrate a company’s wireless network. Many companies leave their Wi-Fi unsecure and easily accessible from the parking lot. Some hackers have fun with this vulnerability such as printing inappropriate pictures on your printer (since many of today’s printers and copiers have wireless capabilities). Your Wi-Fi network is your company’s biggest vulnerability because it is your weakest access point, and any decent hacker can penetrate it with a small brute force attack. (See DDoS to learn more about brute force attacks.) A good IT team will segment your wireless connections (guest, internal, core applications) so guests cannot see your secure networks, access your data, or slip behind your firewall.
- USB – Ever find a USB drive on the ground and wonder what is on it? Hackers are betting that most people are curious and they’ll even entice you to open it with “Year End Bonuses” or “Layoff Roster” written on the device. The hacker can easily penetrate your network once you click on a file, even if it is just a Word document or pdf. Additionally, this attack bypasses your firewall, spam filters, and web filters because of how it enters the network. Eventually, your anti-virus protection should pick it up, but it may be too late by then.
- Impersonation – Besides the social engineered spoofing that I mentioned earlier, sometimes hackers will setup websites and corresponding email addresses for legitimate companies and impersonate them. I attended a cybersecurity workshop a few months ago and they spoke in detail about how hackers impersonated legitimate ships and were messaging ports trying to get enough intel to social engineer and do multiple fileless attacks to gain access to the port’s bank account and management applications. Once inside a core application, they’d have a list of thousands of ships, companies, captains, and crew members to further impersonate or sell those records on the Dark Web.
Because of the large sums of money that a hacker can “earn” and the ease of scaling these attacks, cyber-attacks will continue to increase in size, frequency, and sophistication. Furthermore, don’t limit your mind to thinking hackers are individuals working in solitude. Many hackers work in teams, including modern-day mafias, and even nation-states.
A good IT firm will fortify your network and a great IT team will educate your users on how to protect your company because employees are the biggest vulnerability (especially your CEO) and your last line of defense.