2018 was a good year for hackers. Hundreds of millions of records were breached following cyber attacks. A massive hardware security flaw was discovered that could compromise billions of microchips. A massive ransomware attack crippled the city of Atlanta. And these are just a few of the ways cyber criminals compromised sensitive data and hobbled businesses and governments last year.
But don’t think that your company is safe because you know the risks you’re facing from hackers. As technology evolves and businesses get wise to the kinds of cyber attacks that worked in the past, hackers change their strategies and new threats emerge. With 2019 well under way, these are the new and, in a manner of speaking, improved cyber threats your company faces.
1) Cloud-Based Attacks
Cloud-based computing has made it easier than ever to store large amounts of information. No longer do you need your own servers in order to store employee and client data. But with more and more companies taking advantage of cloud storage and computing services to do business, the companies that offer cloud computing are becoming a bigger and juicier target for hackers.
Data-center malware offers hackers and cyber criminals economies of scale. Instead of targeting a single user, they can now target thousands or millions of users in one fell swoop by targeting the data center that stores those users’ information. We’ve already seen one high-profile cloud-based attack, Operation Cloud Hopper, which targeted IT service providers servicing 45 companies.
2) Attacks Targeting Smart Contracts
Smart contracts use blockchain technology to create allegedly unalterable records and execute the digital exchange of assets if certain conditions are met. But, while some entrepreneurs are advocating for the use of smart contracts in areas ranging from intellectual property to money transfers and more, these software programs remain full of bugs – bugs that hackers can easily exploit to steal millions.
The problem is that it’s hard to keep the information in smart contracts secret, because blockchain technology was designed to favor transparency. Developers and researchers are still working out techniques to keep data in these contracts private.
Ransomware isn’t the only kind of malware that can make cyber criminals money – far from it. And now there’s a whole new reason why your company needs strong network security protection – cryptojacking.
Cryptojacking malware doesn’t take your system for ransom. Instead, it runs quietly in the background, using your system and its resources to mine for cyptocurrency. And since hackers can use any system to mine cryptocurrency, cryptojacking means that no business is too small to be a profitable target. As long as you have computers, applications, and digital resources, hackers can make money off of you, and that should put you on guard.
4) Biometric Hacking
Biometric data, like fingerprints or facial recognition technology, was supposed to be the last word in network security. Like the Titanic, it was supposed to be unsinkable – because only you have your face and fingerprints, so how can hackers steal that information?
The iceberg in this frigid sea is the fact that fingerprints, facial features, and other biometric data are stored in binary code, the same as typographic passwords. Fingerprints and facial feature data can be stolen in data breaches. And even without a data breach, a determined hacker can now use a 3D printer to replicate your facial features or fingerprints in order to access your system.
5) AI-Generated Deepfakes
Recent advances in artificial intelligence (AI) have made it terrifyingly easy for hackers to generate deepfakes, or completely fake audio and video that looks completely real. Hackers can use these convincingly realistic videos to bolster their phishing schemes, or as part of a more complex tactic to meddle with elections, manipulate the stock market, escalate social and political tensions, or manufacture a crisis. Cyber criminals could use AI to release a convincing deepfake video of North Korea declaring war on the United States, for example, or of Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announcing that the company is facing dire financial straits. If your company is targeted by a deepfake attack, the damage could be done before you even realize you’ve been targeted.
As time marches on and cyber criminals look for new and better ways to cause mayhem and make money, cyber attacks are becoming increasingly frightening and effective. Take steps to protect your company against emerging threats, before it’s too late.