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State Of Cyber Security And Future Threat Landscape

Cybersecurity Awareness – By Ron Frechette, The Cyber Coach

As another year comes to a close, 2018 will most likely be remembered in the cybersecurity world as, “The Year of Ransomware and Phishing Attacks”.  Add the new Cybersecurity Frontier of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning to the equation and the future begins to look like the SCI-FI thrillers I grew up watching as a kid… but this is real life!

As we look ahead to 2019, it is forecasted to be another year where cybercrimes will grow significantly.  There were an average of 200,000 malware variants launched into cyberspace every day in 2018.

More people around the world are just now being exposed to the internet and considered high value phishing and ransomware targets in the cybercriminal world.  Some experts predict we could see a 10 fold increase in cybercriminal activity over the next 2 to 3 years. These malware variants hit us in all different shapes, forms and directions.  Ransomware & Phishing attacks topped the list as most effective means of penetrating security perimeters in 2018. These malware variants are predicted to be launched more frequently and at a higher scale with the advent of AI and Machine learning in 2019 and beyond.  Think Terminator… in real life!

With the touch of a few buttons, virtual stores allow us to shop from the comfort of our homes.  It’s not uncommon to be invited to a neighborhood holiday shopping party where everyone brings a digital device, a favorite dish, and a bottle of wine.  Everyone sits around listening to holiday music and enjoying one another’s company as they shop.  If one store is out of a product, we just click to the next one, and may even find a better deal. Talk about convenience… and fun!

Small-midsize businesses must be especially mindful of becoming secure and compliant as we move into the new year.  We had an influx of calls in 2018 from several clients who received letters from their larger clients requesting copies of Security Risk Assessments, Disaster Recovery/Business Continuity Plans, etc. to show they have a formal security and compliance program in place.  We predict the SMB market will wake from its cybersecurity slumber in 2019.  It all starts with identifying vulnerabilities within your security perimeter by performing a Security Risk Assessment.

Top Breaches in 2018

Industry sectors hardest hit with data breaches in 2018 were healthcare and financial services. The Anthem Breach topped the list by far with a record $16 million HIPAA settlement impacting over 79 million individuals.  Anthem was also the subject of a series of class action law suits that resulted in a record $115 million settlement.

Cyber Criminal Landscape

The cybercriminal landscape also grew significantly in 2018. Third-world countries have become prime recruiting targets for growing Cyber-Syndicate groups seeking to expand their criminal networks. According to data from Juniper Research, by 2019, cybercrime will cost businesses over $2 Trillion, which is a four-fold increase from 2015.  Cybercriminals see this as a goldmine opportunity and it makes for a compelling value proposition to those struggling to survive.

Future Outlook

The threat landscape will continue to constantly change, although ransomware, phishing attacks, and malware still top the list of most common threats. The game of Cat and Mouse will continue to heat up between the Good Hackers and the Bad as AI and Machine Learning evolve.

Cyber criminals will continue to target small-midsize businesses as they are considered low hanging fruit compared to larger enterprise companies who have developed extremely robust and mature security programs. They will also continue to target newcomers to the internet.

We expect the trend of larger companies requesting security and compliance documentation of their vendors to rise in 2019. This will force smaller businesses to adopt a cyber risk management system or risk losing business. Vendor Risk Assessments and Cyber insurance will also continue to rise in demand.

What Can We Do?

It is important now more than ever that we begin adopting a cyber risk management system that we can rely on to thwart potential cyber-attacks.  Technology is advancing so fast, it’s hard for the world to keep up with the associated security risks.  Practicing good cyber hygiene will dramatically reduce our risk of becoming a victim of a cyber crime.

Our hope is over the past year we have provided our readers with enough information that is causing them to take action and become more vigilant in this crazy Digital Age we all live in today.

Wishing all a Blessed Holiday Season, a Happy New Year, and safe journey in cyberspace


GoldSky Security offers small and medium sizes business cyber security solutions across the US and currently has offices in Orlando, Florida and in Denver, Colorado.

Questions? Send me a tweet: @GoldSkyRon or email [email protected]

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