No rest for the cyber-wicked in 2018, security researchers warn

By Erin Ayers on November 30, 2017

After an active year in 2017, with some of the biggest hacks in history, businesses shouldn’t expect any relief in 2018 from cybercriminals, according to security experts. In fact, 2018 is likely to result in more advanced attacks than ever.

Research from several cybersecurity firms predict that hackers have no intention of letting up in their lucrative, disruptive cyber campaigns. One report, issued by McAfee Labs, predicted that attackers will leverage connected devices, machine learning, and artificial intelligence in order to disrupt commerce. The firm warned that this would have the effect of making social engineering efforts more difficult to detect and signal a new wave of ransomware-style attacks.

“The profitability of traditional ransomware campaigns will decline as vendor defenses, user education, and industry strategies improve to counter them. Attackers will target less traditional, more profitable ransomware targets, including high net-worth individuals, connected devices, and businesses. This pivot from the traditional will see ransomware technologies applied beyond the objective of extorting individuals, to cyber sabotage and disruption of organizations,” the firm said in its annual predictions report.

McAfee added, “The 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.”

Another report, conducted by PandaLabs, also predicted more malware aimed at mobile devices and the Internet of Things. The ease of hiring shadowy cyber-freelancers means high return on investment for those intent on stealing data, secrets, or a business’ sense of security. PandaLabs also predicted more widespread awareness of breaches, particularly outside the U.S., with the May 2018 effective date of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe.

Erin is an editor at Advisen. She has 15 years of journalism experience. Prior to Advisen, Erin covered property-casualty insurance for 13 years as editor-in-chief of The Standard, New England’s Insurance Weekly. Erin is based in Boston, Mass. Contact Erin at eayers@advisen.com.