3 Cyber Security Predictions for 2019

2019 Cyber Security: What every company, big or small, should look out for in the upcoming year.
Gigabit Systems
November 4, 2018
20 min read
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The new year is around the corner. This, of course, means new trends and predications for what’s to come. Here are 3 cyber security predictions to be on the lookout for in 2019.

The Prevalence of Nation-State Attacks

In light of recent acts of terror, we can safely assume that nation-state cyber-attacks will likely continue in 2019. These attacks, as they are now, may be state-conducted or sponsored targeted cyber attacks on any and all adversaries such as, but not limited to, journalists, politicians, business leaders, and entire governments, etc. We unfortunately find evidence to support this from the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, or NotPetya, the most costly cyber security attack in history, caused by Russia in an attempt to destabilize Ukraine.

Another prediction regarding nation-state attacks in 2019 includes how affected nations will take responsibility, or neglect to take responsibility. Like-minded governments, who target dissenting opinions, are likely to turn the cold shoulder to attacks within their own borders. If businesses are under the impression that their own government might not even stand firm against cyber criminals, perhaps this may motivate corporate leaders to strengthen their cyber-security infrastructure more than ever before.

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The Rise of Multi-Factor Authentication

Multi-factor authentication (MFA) entails confirming a user’s claimed identity by only granting access after successfully presenting several pieces of evidence to an authentication mechanism, such as, but not limited to: possession, inheritance, or knowledge. Sometimes, multi-factor authentication is limited to a combination of only two-factors (2FA): something the user knows, has, or is.

While this solution is far from perfect, it is likely that more and more websites and online services will provide multi-factor authentication as opposed to password-only access. This switch is motivated in-part by the increasing number of phishing attacks associated with password use. To accommodate this switch, FIDO2 browser enhancements and the Duo/Cisco acquisition may tip the scales in MFA's favor. These system improvements will make MFA more tempting to use than not to, despite some initial frustration on how to use the mechanism.

The Decline of Ransomware

Ransomware describes a type of malicious software that denies access to a computer system or data until there is a ransom paid. It is likely that cyber criminals will begin to stray away from ransomware in pursuit of new ways to generate revenue. For example, the number of users who encountered ransomware in 2017 and 2018 fell by nearly 30% over the 2016-2017 time period. Some experts predict that while ransomware will still be employed, it will be more of a targeted attack.  

What attributes to the decline of ransomware? Some associate this decline to cryptojacking, where a hacker hijacks a target’s processes for the purpose of mining cryptocurrency on the hacker’s behalf. Since the number and quantity of cryptomining tools require little-to-no technical training, schemes seem more appealing to money makers than traditional ransomware attacks. Ultimately, cryptomining offers attackers a means of making quick cash from an infection, which is exemplified by the 44.5 percent rise in number of users that have experienced a cryptomining attack in the past year.

The future of 2019

While trends are expected to shift in the upcoming year, an evaluation of what to expect in 2019 should come as no surprise. Overall, in the upcoming year, cyber-security will likely shift focus away from ransomware, and towards multi-factor authentication. The international community should also be on the lookout for nation-state attacks, while also bearing in mind the impact of these on individual businesses and consumers. At the end of the day, it is important to remember, that no one is immune is to a cyber security attack and it is best to implement a cyber security strategy and recovery plan.

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