As technology becomes more advanced, so do cybercriminals in their methodology, and so does the threat landscape. Chances are, you’ve heard a recent news report on data leaks compromising the private information of hundreds of thousands, if not millions of end-users. Or perhaps you’ve heard of how more recent developments in mobile apps and the dark web are leaving users ever-more vulnerable.
As a result, identities are compromised and reputations tarnished. If left unchecked, these data breaches and attacks on cyber security will only continue to evolve and target unwitting consumers. Charter Global has helped companies big and small identify, prevent, and protect their most vulnerable assets from corruption. We’ve seen these three trends on the rise in 2019:
1) Increasingly Sophisticated Ransomware
Despite the decrease in overall ransomware attacks in 2018, enterprise networks may now be the most vulnerable subjects, as the idea of hacking a giant network is much more profitable than targeting individual computer systems. In recent years, developments in the internet of things (IOT devices), machine learning and artificial intelligence, although wonderful for the advancement of technology, can be devastating when used for the corrupt advancement of security threats.
Social engineering also contributes to the uptake in cyber threats, especially in the ever-growing network of mobile devices. The actual raw data concerning the number of ransomware attacks can be difficult to calculate, but it is estimated that 2017 alone saw over $5 billion globallly in damages. What’s more, cybercrime trends are keeping up with ever-growing developments, particularly in the world of financial services – with newly coined terms, such as “banking trojan,” nearly becoming household terms. Threat intelligence struggles to keep up in real time, especially as technology becomes increasingly mobile, as is the instance with smart tablets, appliances, and phones.
2) Higher Frequency of Smart Device Usage Elevates Risk
Just about everything has evolved to include smart functions, making everyday necessities like a light switch or a thermostat obsolete. While the this lifestyle is convenient, it poses a dire risk due to a range of factors which create what tech experts have dubbed a security blackbox. Electronic personal assistants are ready to obey commands 24/7, constantly monitoring the airwaves for our voices and making sense of our language and “listening” to their surroundings.
Our inability to understand exactly what information is being captured or transmitted at any time by our multitude of internet-connected devices is problematic for businesses and individuals alike. In the event of a breach or the violation of transparency laws, organizations will be held liable by both regulators and consumers due to the inadequacy of data protection and face punitive damages along with public scrutiny.
3) Legislation is Behind the Curve
More often than not, most legislators are not formally trained in technology, and most of the time, were born and raised in a far less advanced technological era. As a result, legislation is years behind the curve, and largely considered an impracticle application of justice given the capabilities and limitations inherent in technology.
Statutory deadlines are difficult to meet as sweeping changes come and go with little forewarning. The struggle organizations face in keeping abreast of these changes may have a drastic impact on business models previously thought unsinkable. This is especially true of cloud implementations, where the actual location of cloud data, often an oversight, has been overlooked.
Preventative Action: 9 Tips for your Digital Safety
Maintaining healthy digital habits and common sense practices can help mitigate your exposure to malware and ransomware.
- Keep your PC up to date via Windows Update. Some programs won’t even attack Windows 10, choosing instead Windows XP and older Windows operating systems.
- Ensure you have an active firewall and anti-malware solution in place. Windows Firewall and Windows Defender are barely adequate, and a good third-party anti-malware solution is far better.
- Don’t rely on antimalware to save you, however. Experts at RSA say that antivirus companies are just getting around to addressing ransomware, and their protection isn’t guaranteed.
- Ensure that Adobe Flash is turned off, or surf with a browser, like Google Chrome, that turns it off by default.
- Turn off Office macros, if they’re enabled. In Office 2016, you can ensure they’re off from the Trust Center > Macro Settings, or just type “macros” in the search box at the top, then open the “Security” box.
- Don’t open questionable links, either on a webpage or especially in an email. The most common way you’ll encounter ransomware is by clicking on a bad link. Worse still, about two-thirds of the infections tracked were on more than one machine, implying that infected users forwarded the link and exposed more people.
- Likewise, stay out of the bad corners of the Internet. A bad ad on a legitimate site can still inject malware if you’re not careful, but the risks increase if you’re surfing where you shouldn’t.
- See something, say something: You’re better safe than sorry. Don’t be afraid to add extraneous layers of security or authorization for user entitlements. A denial of service is far better than a breach of privacy.
- When in the presence of an attack vector, sound the alarms. The sooner suspicious activity is detected, the sooner you can get to work on kicking out any unwanted guests.