Emerging Cybersecurity Trends for the New Year

The Increasing Severity of Ransomware

Ransomware isn?t new, even though most of us would just like it to go the way of the Wooly Mammoth. Unfortunately, it seems to be going the way of the pigeon, showing up everywhere you look. In 2021, there were nearly three-quarters of a billion attempted ransomware attacks and over 100 different strains circulating around the globe. If that isn?t something to be concerned about I?m not sure what is. 

There is no question that the use of ransomware is growing. In fact, one metric cites that there were three times as many ransomware attacks in the first quarter of 2021 than there were in the entirety of 2019. It?s getting so bad that some hackers aren?t even bothering locking down data and files, they just put the ransomware screen up and collect the ransom. This is extremely troubling. 

Most of the time, ransomware is deployed through phishing attacks. This social engineering tactic allows hackers and scammers to avoid all the high-powered encryption and other technology designed to protect organizational data and systems, by systemically tricking a person who has authentication credentials to hand them over, allowing for access to the network. Ultimately, this access is used for the most nefarious purpose: extortion. 

To get the best of hackers looking to deploy ransomware, you need the people who have access to your business? network to be thoroughly trained and tested. It is really the only way to ensure that these threats can be completely mitigated. A staff that is well-trained and has acute awareness of what phishing attacks look like is the best defense against it.

Establishment of Artificial Intelligence for Cybersecurity

This has been mentioned several times, but 2022 is the year that you are going to see concepts that financial services companies use in fraud prevention used to enhance organizational cybersecurity. By now, most people have an idea of what artificial intelligence (AI) is used for: to automate tasks that have different results based on relatively small numbers of variables. By ?relatively small? we mean many more than the average human can compute, but small enough where it doesn?t require massive amounts of computational power.

For cybersecurity, the main benefits are from the predictive powers of AI. Hackers and scammers are also starting to use AI-powered tools for their nefarious purposes, however, making threats even more dangerous. The benefit of AI for cybersecurity is that it only takes one slip up by infiltrators to be thwarted and using smarter automated tools can help human technicians find and eliminate threats. 

What is really remarkable about AI-powered security is how much the perception of the technology has changed in a short time. Five years ago, people were dismissing AI as a possible tool that could be leveraged to keep threats off computing infrastructures, while a recent poll conducted by Capgemini suggested that nearly 65 percent of all business security professionals consider AI to be essential for the future of cybersecurity. 

Shifts in Regulation

For the past couple of years there has been a significant push to consider individual?s data privacy. Not so much for the U.S. Congress to pass anything definitive, but the EU (GDPR) and some individual U.S. states have ratified legislation aiming to help people keep ownership over sensitive data. 

When the latest studies show that nearly $6 trillion was stolen by hackers and other online entities in 2021, lawmakers have no choice but to pay attention. Over the next year you will probably see penalties for people who are convicted of cybercrime go up, regulations designed to keep losses at bay created, and even laws designed to keep organizations from paying the ransom when their files are locked down by ransomware. 

The current regulatory environment is notoriously lax on a lot of computer-related crimes, but as more organizations start to fall victim to huge thefts and frauds, expect lawmakers to use the power of the pen to protect assets and deal with cybercriminals much more harshly. 

Cybercrime is not a problem that is just going to go away, but if you put your business in a good position, you can do a lot to keep from falling victim to the mountain of threats out there. If you would like to have a conversation with one of our consultants about tightening up your cybersecurity and employee training process, give White Mountain IT Services a call today at (603) 889-0800. 

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