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The Top Cybersecurity Trends We Saw This Year

By: Kaylie Gyarmathy on December 13, 2018

As 2018 winds down to a close, it’s time to take a look back at some of the trends that defined the year. Cybersecurity, or the lack of it in many cases, made its way into the headlines on numerous occasions. With IT professionals looking ahead to the challenges of the future, here are a few cybersecurity trends from this year that are worth keeping in mind.

DDoS on the Rise

Distributed denial of service attacks made plenty of waves in 2018, setting new records in terms of frequency and intensity. The most severe attacks shifted from older botnet-driven strategies to far more powerful memcached assaults. Fortunately, cybersecurity countermeasures have become quite experienced at dealing with these attacks over the last few years, which helped companies to mitigate the worst of the damage.

But the sheer number of these DDoS attacks means that many less resourceful organizations still face a significant threat. With attacks stronger than 1 Tbps now becoming commonplace, small and medium businesses will likely turn to data centers to provide the kind of security their IT infrastructure needs to stay up and running in the face of such malicious traffic.

Broadening Attack Vectors

Internet of things (IoT) devices are becoming more common with each passing day, making them one of the hottest cybersecurity topics of 2018. Recent research has shown that 90 percent of US consumers own some form of smart home device, with 30 percent of the people who do not own one planning to make such a purchase within the next year. These devices provide undeniable benefits that make life easier, but they aren’t completely without trade-offs.

Since IoT devices are connected to the internet, each one of them represents an access point in their respective networks through an edge computing architecture. This has the effect of broadening the surface of a network, multiplying the potential attack vectors significantly. Resourceful hackers can use vulnerable devices to gain access to otherwise well-protected networks, and can also infect them with malware to turn them into part of a botnet capable of launching a DDoS attack. As organizations incorporate more IoT devices into their networks, they must take extra care to ensure that they aren’t compromising their security protocols in the name of convenience.

Remote Workers

According to research from 2018, about 70 percent of professionals around the world work remotely at least once a week while just over half do so for at least half the week. While the virtual workplace has made it possible for organizations to leverage talent from around the globe, it has also introduced significant security threats. With people accessing proprietary data remotely through a variety of devices and service providers, there is a greater chance of exposure to dangerous malware. The large number of devices with access to a network also raises the possibility that they could be lost due to theft or simple carelessness. Every unaccounted for device represents a potential security threat.

Organizations can protect against this danger by implementing and strictly enforcing more robust security protocols and procedures. Managing who has access to sensitive data, when they can access it, and what devices they can use to do so is also critically important. Data centers equipped with sophisticated business intelligence software can provide the level of transparency needed to regulate access and monitor usage patterns to help spot irregularities before they result in a costly (and embarrassing) breach.

Proactive vs Passive Security

Traditional cybersecurity measures have focused on erecting barriers that attacks must overcome. A “firewall,” for instance, is a fundamentally passive obstacle that is designed to withstand an attack rather than actively counter it. With DDoS attacks increasing in frequency and magnitude, IT experts have been hard at work developing new strategies to counter attacks and other cybersecurity problems more proactively.

Machine learning programs are capable of analyzing historical attack patterns to anticipate where the next strike is most likely to land. It also allows cybersecurity systems and remote hands services to identify the early warning signs that an attack is underway, which is especially critical during a DDoS attack. Rather than sitting around waiting for the attack to come and hoping for the best, newer security trends emphasize flexibility and proactive measures to undercut attacks and avoid the worst effects to keep valuable systems up and running while also protecting valuable data.

Data Theft

Many of the high profile cyberattacks of 2018 involved data breaches, once again demonstrating that even companies with vast resources at their disposal are not entirely immune from being hacked. Given the high costs that legitimate companies are willing to pay to gain access to user data, it’s no wonder that hackers are looking to do the same.

As a major caretaker of customer data, data centers have gone to great lengths to ensure that companies have all the tools and support they need to protect that sensitive information. This is particularly important from a brand reputation standpoint, as organizations that suffer data breaches can take years to recover the trust their customers once placed in them.

State-Sponsored Threats

The internet is no longer just a place for doing business and watching cute cat videos. Increasingly, national governments are viewing it as a battlefield for waging high-tech war on their rivals. This year, the US government accused Russia of launching a malware attack on a portion of its electrical grid in 2016. China and North Korea have also been implicated in a number of hacking incidents over the last few years. And in March of 2018, the US Department of Justice indicted nine Iranian hackers for an attack launched against more than 300 universities and as many as 100,000 individuals in an attempt to compromise valuable intellectual property.

Many of these state-sponsored attacks are aimed at private companies and even individuals rather than government targets. The goal is often to create disruption and test vulnerabilities in various network infrastructures. Until a concerted effort is taken by national security agencies to address these attacks more broadly, organizations must continue to familiarize themselves with the tactics used by state sponsored hackers to better protect their valuable infrastructure.

As 2019 approaches, cybersecurity problems will continue to be a serious concern for any organization that depends upon its IT infrastructure for business success. By taking stock of some of the leading cybersecurity trends over the last year, they can begin to prepare for the challenges they will no doubt face in the years to come.

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