Cybersecurity predictions for 2019

January 15, 2019//Ellen Neveux

Last Updated: June 22, 2021

This year will present new risks and challenges for enterprise organizations. In these early weeks, expanded security protocols are being reviewed and implemented to protect against emerging threats. Because of this, there are some critical areas network managers should be sure to include in those planning sessions. Cybersecurity will continue to be at the top of the list as attackers become more sophisticated at using artificial intelligence (AI) to exploit weaknesses, cryptojacking becomes a mainstream issue, and data-in-transit becomes the preferred target of attackers.

Here are a few cybersecurity trends that we expect to see impacting enterprise organizations and technology vendors this year.

The rise of AI will expose blind spots in third-party access:

With the use of AI on the rise and no sign of it slowing down, attackers will exploit the weaknesses in enterprise AI systems. In 2019, AI systems will continue to help automate tasks and enable quicker decision making, but in tandem, attackers will use their own AI to swipe massive amounts of data. This is especially true of vendor relationships that rely on AI to automate granting privileged access.

According to Forrester, 80% of security breaches involve privileged credentials. Once an attacker gains access they will try to install a keylogger to get higher-privilege credentials, giving the attackers easy access to large amounts of data. AI systems used by attackers can adapt and learn to perceive nuances and blind spots that humans cannot. Attacks will target third parties with elevated access to exploit these weak points.

Cryptojackers will exploit weaknesses in third-party extensions:

The popularity of cryptocurrencies will continue to rise in 2019 and with it, so will cryptojacking, which is the unauthorized use of an entity’s computer to mine cryptocurrency. This will continue to plague enterprises as attackers implant in-browser cryptocurrency mining codes into sites via third-party extensions or advertisements.

According to Adguard, there was a 31% growth rate for in-browser cryptojacking just this past year, and it will only increase. This means vendor tools that require in-browser extensions will become highly targeted by crytojackers.

5G adoption will expose authentication details through third-party services:

It will take time for 5G networks and 5G-capable phones and other devices to become mainstream, but the growth of 5G networks will occur rapidly. According to IDC, the market for 5G and 5G-related network infrastructure will grow to $26 billion in 2022. 5G networks will be more exposed and at greater risk of attack. A recent study showed issues with the 5G security protocol, known as Authentication and Key Agreement (AKA). With network attacks becoming increasingly automated the likelihood of zero-day attacks will increase exponentially. Attackers will use distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on 5G systems that hijack a massive number of IoT devices. When accessing an operator’s 5G network, the user experience is authenticated by the network primarily based on subscription credentials. Weak authentication used by 5G can be exposed and reused for other services. The authentication results acquired through third-party services may be used by attackers to place targeted phishing campaigns throughout the network.

Internet of Things (IoT) devices with remote access will become more vulnerable:

Most IoT devices weren’t designed with robust, configurable security. This leaves them at risk for a malware infection of apps that control IoT devices. Expect more IoT attacks, especially with smart and connected devices that utilize third-party vendor apps. Attackers will continue to improve on hijacking IoT products such as baby monitors, surveillance cams, and smart home devices.

This hijacking will have a huge impact on technology vendors who can’t keep their customers safe. Once hijacked, attackers may install more malware or continue acquiring additional devices. This makes sense since a recent study done by HP shows that 70% of devices are vulnerable to an attack.

Data-in-transit attacks will compromise third-party suppliers:

In 2018 alone there were numerous data-in-transit compromises. One attack occurred when Magecart stole credit card numbers from e-commerce sites by compromising third-party suppliers. These types of attacks on data-in-transit have adversely affected many global websites.

According to SpiderLabs, in 66% of investigations, attackers opted to harvest data-in-transit, while stored data was only targeted 26.5% of the time. This trend will have the most impact on retail giants whose e-commerce sites have thousands of daily transactions.

Third-party weaknesses will make attacks on PHI more frequent:

While the healthcare industry becomes increasingly focused on cybersecurity, medical records continue to become more valuable than credit card data. This data often sells for over $50 USD per record on the Dark Web. PHI is so attractive to attackers because medical records include policy numbers, diagnosis codes, and billing information, which can be used to create fake identities, conduct medical fraud, or file false insurance claims. While network managers in healthcare try to strengthen security measures, attackers have turned their focus to third-party providers as a clear path to access sensitive and valuable patient data.

While these predictions illustrate a new landscape of security threats, they also highlight a wave of advanced tools that will revolutionize how businesses run. Security should not be about limiting what’s possible but rather protecting what gets built. 2019 will present new and unexpected protection challenges. The key is to create security protocols and to integrate tools that monitor systems, control access, and ensure your team receives constant training.

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