Cyberthreats in 2019: The Trends That Will Continue to Move Upward

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When it comes to realistic predictions for the year ahead, my philosophy is simple: there are certain trends that research shows will continue to move upward. With that said, in 2019, I believe we are going to see:


1. More Attacks With the Eventual Goal of Cryptocurrency Mining

We saw a huge uptick in this at the end of last year that continued throughout 2018. Cryptocurrency mining is the process through which currencies like bitcoin are created. The “mining” process involves racing to perform a series of calculations to solve a cryptographic problem. The person who wins the race is awarded a block of coins, and the more CPU power someone can throw at those calculations, the better their chance at winning. It has become too safe a way for attackers to make money. Although I don’t predict this will skyrocket, I do see it being a continuous point in the threat landscape of which people and businesses alike need to be aware.


2. An Increase in Business Email Compromise Attacks

We have done a lot of research on BEC attacks and observed a steady increase since 2013. In fact, we held a conference this summer for industry and government officials to learn more about them. For those unfamiliar, this is a class of attack where a cybercriminal targets a company or organization, typically small to mid-sized, with a relatively large bank account. The attacker targets the email account of a high-level executive through spear phishing or a malware-related email. Once they have access, they look at the account very closely to learn how this person might transfer money or might be impersonated. The attacker then tricks the victim or the victim’s business partners into transferring tens of thousands of dollars into a bank account. The FBI estimates there has been $12 billion in theft related to this type of attack between 2013 and now. It’s an area that hasn’t achieved the level of awareness it needs, especially in small to mid-sized organizations.


3. More Email-Based Attacks That Use Malicious Macro Code

We first started seeing this in October 2014 in WildFire. Instead of trying to exploit vulnerabilities in people’s software, attackers use malicious macro code in Word or Excel and ask users to click the “enable content button.” When the user does this, it infects the user’s computer with malware. This has been quite effective for attackers, and luckily for them, users have not become more aware. Unless something significant happens, like Microsoft disabling macros by default for everyone, we are going to keep seeing attackers use this because it’s just too easy for them.

The post Cyberthreats in 2019: The Trends That Will Continue to Move Upward appeared first on Palo Alto Networks Blog.

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Palo Alto Networks is the next-generation security company maintaining trust in the digital age by helping tens of thousands of organizations worldwide prevent cyber breaches. With our deep cybersecurity expertise, commitment to innovation, and game-changing Next-Generation Security Platform, customers can confidently pursue a digital-first strategy and embark on new technology initiatives, such as cloud and mobility. This kind of thinking and know-how helps customer organizations grow their business and empower employees all while maintaining complete visibility and the control needed to protect their critical control systems and most valued data assets. Our platform was built from the ground up for breach prevention, with threat information shared across security functions system-wide, and designed to operate in increasingly mobile, modern networks. By combining network, cloud and endpoint security with advanced threat intelligence in a natively integrated security platform, we safely enable all applications and deliver highly automated, preventive protection against cyberthreats at all stages in the attack lifecycle without compromising performance. Customers benefit from superior security to what legacy or point products provide and realize a better total cost of ownership.
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