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2019 Predictions: Part Two

As 2018 draws to a close, the industry looks ahead to next year and preparing for what 2019 might have in store. In Part One of our 2019 Predictions series, we learned that rogue AI-driven chatbots, large GDPR fines and increasing cloud complexities will be some of the key trends and threats keeping both businesses and consumers busy over the next 12 months.

As we continue our 2019 Predictions series, industry experts share further thoughts on some of the other issues that will come to the fore next year.

IoT Botnets: Coming to a Device Near You

Experts at Malwarebytes predict that 2019 will see increasing numbers of hardware devices compromised to serve up everything from coin miners to malware, a trend that began in the second half of 2018.

The Malwarebytes Labs team warned that there will be large scale compromises of routers and IoT devices, which are a lot harder to patch than computers.

Adam Kujawa, director of Malwarebytes Labs, said: “The focus on IoT attacks is a new realm that requires new technology and tactics from the security community, as well as efforts from IoT developers to work together in order to secure what they are offering to consumers.”

For now, he added, doing two things is incredibly important to users of IoT devices.

“The first is securing IoT devices in any way you can; if a device offers some kind of encrypted communications or multi-factor authentication, use it, then change the default passwords immediately.

"The second is to make your device a hard target for criminals, and you can do this by making sure your device is renamed to something that doesn’t give away what the device is or who created it and by looking around your settings, does your device need to stay connected to the internet? If so, are there anyways to access the device from the internet? App, website, etc.? Lots of users are unaware of the fact that their baby monitor webcam is actually broadcasting the video out to the internet, with default access credentials (or none at all) because the owners failed to read the manual.”

The Spread of ‘Vaporworms’

Another trend that experts at WatchGuard think will play a significant role in 2019 is the growth of ‘Vaporworms’ – a new breed of fileless malware with worm-like properties that can self-propagate through vulnerable systems and avoid detection.

It’s been 15+ years since the Code Red computer worm, an early example of a fileless worm, spread through hundreds of thousands of vulnerable Microsoft IIS web servers. Since then, both worms and fileless malware (which runs entirely in memory without ever dropping a file onto an infected system) have impacted networks across the world separately, but rarely together.

However, last year gave us a glimpse of the damage that can be caused when malicious actors combine the two, highlighted in the WannaCry and NotPetya ransomware outbreaks in which attackers were able to add zero-day vulnerabilities to spreadable ransomware.

Speaking to Infosecurity, Mark Laliberte, sr. security analyst at WatchGuard Technologies, said: “Vaporworms are indiscriminate – they don’t care if you’re a multi-billion dollar enterprise or a ‘mom and pop’ shop with three employees. If you have a vulnerable system and lack the proper protections, you will be a victim. As fileless malware evades traditional anti-virus protections, businesses must make sure they have tools in place that monitor endpoint process behavior to detect and respond to these new threats.”

CISO Role Intertwines with CTO

The next trend that Ivan Novikov, CEO of Wallarm, predicts for next year is the CISO role becoming intertwined with that of the CTO, with enterprise security set to become more integrated with business operations.

He explained that, whilst traditionally it has been the C-suite that has taken the brunt of the fallout following high-profile security breaches, the aftermath is increasingly taking senior management – including the security and teaching teams – along with it.

“As a result, the distinction between the traditional roles of the CISO and CTO will become yet greyer next year,” he says.

“Traditionally, responsible for risk mitigation and recovery, CISOs have a deep understanding of current and emerging threats while the CTO, although responsible for the security of the business, tends to be more removed from the coalface of vulnerability testing and threat mitigation.

“The two roles will come closer together as CISOs learn to balance security concerns against ensuring the business is competitive and able to innovate. Rather than reporting to the CTO, the two roles will move towards more of a peer relationship with CISO’s policies and playbooks informing the CTO’s map towards digital transformation.”

As you can see, there will be plenty keeping the industry busy next year, and that’s just the takeaways from Part Two of our three-part 2019 Predictions series. Keep your eyes peeled for Part Three, which Infosecurity will be bringing to you very soon!

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