Back in January of this year, several months before the world-wide ransomware sensation “Wanna Cry” made the news and brought the focus of business back to the security of the computers that their companies live and die on, Warwick Ashford, Senior Editor for Computer Weekly’s online edition was predicting the process of locking up computers until a sum of money (ransom) was paid, was going to flourish in the coming months. ‘Cyber attacks that exploit weaknesses in mobile devices and devices that make up the internet of things (IoT), including distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, are also expected to continue from 2016. However, in 2017, experts predict an increase in professional, advanced attacks – including attacks on cloud infrastructure – and the rise of data manipulation attacks, further underlining the need for a fresh approach to data security.
Perhaps the most disturbing prediction is that as defenders look to artificial intelligence (AI) to bolster security, this will be mirrored in the cyber criminal world by AI-driven attacks. Overall, the pace and variation of exploits driven by technically astute adversaries will only gain momentum if not managed effectively, said Mike East, vice-president of sales in Europe at CrowdStrike.
What will not change, he said, is that all businesses will be vulnerable as attack targets, whether they are a Fortune 500 company, a family-run business or a utility company.
Ashford, speaking directly about ransomware, typically in the form of encryption Trojans, grew rapidly in popularity with attackers in 2016, and these attacks are expected to cannibalise other more traditional attacks based on data theft in 2017. The pursuit of profit is the primary motivation of cyber criminals, and ransomware is the simplest and most effective way to achieve this, said researchers at Panda Security. But not only is the number of ransomware attacks expected to continue to increase, the malware involved is also expected to become more sophisticated, predict security experts at SecureWorks.
“Though most ransomware attacks are not targeted, it is likely there will be an uptick in targeted attacks in 2017,” said Alexander Hanel, a security researcher at SecureWorks. “Compromising corporate environments through targeted attacks allows the attackers to request more money than they would receive from a typical user. That makes enterprise targets more attractive,” he said.’
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