Patch Related Security Trends For 2018

This year the world watched as widespread effects of data breaches were realized, ransomware caused disruptions to banks, national health services, and nuclear facilities. Once limited to discussion among IT departments, cybersecurity is now a mainstream topic among both individuals and companies fearing for the safety of their data.

While 2017 may have served as an awakening to the wide array of cybersecurity threats that are present, attacks are not expected to slow in 2018. Some of the trends seen in 2017 will continue to grow, and newer cybercrime tactics will also emerge. Here are some patch related security trends we expect to see in 2018:

Ransomware and Cyber Crime Continue to Grow

After a string of successful attacks in 2017, ransomware, cyber extortion, and other types of cybercrime are expected to proliferate in the coming year. It is expected that ransomware will adapt as companies increase their defenses, entering networks through vulnerable IoT devices and utilizing new “quieter” variations of worms to hasten their spread once inside. Attacks will also become more targeted, with high net worth individuals and industry specific companies that store sensitive data being most at risk, such as Healthcare and Financial Services.

One new mechanism that is expected to increase in 2018 is crime-as-a-service. Cyber criminals acquire ransomware or malware and use it on their intended targets, allowing anyone to facilitate an attack, whether they have the technical acumen or not. Last year’s Petya ransomware, which was available for sale on the dark web before being used against Ukrainian companies, was an example of this.

More Leaked Exploits Will Emerge

In the past two years a group known as the “Shadow Brokers” have published a string of hacking tools and previously unknown vulnerabilities originating from the National Security Agency. The data released in 2017 contained major vulnerabilities in popular systems including Windows, Cisco, and Linux that led to the spread of WannaCry and other malware. It is unclear what additional data the Shadow Brokers could possess, but organizations should expect more vulnerabilities and malware to be released by the Shadow Brokers or similar groups in the coming year.

Machine Learning To Support Attacks

As machine learning becomes more sophisticated, McAfee Labs predicts that both attackers and companies will use machine learning to process huge amounts of data at once and identify vulnerabilities. While machine learning can identify suspicious behavior and assist developers in identifying vulnerabilities, it can also enable hackers to discover unknown vulnerabilities and launch zero-day attacks prior to them being patched.

Shadow IT And Human Oversight Will Persist

Shadow IT, the practice of employees installing new applications without the knowledge of IT departments, will continue to prevail in 2018. While these applications are not installed with bad intent, they can become major security threats to an organization if not inventoried and patched.

Individual employees will continue to compromise network security in other ways: In the case of known devices and applications, employees may delay or refuse updates and critical patches. Phishing scams targeted at unsuspecting employees will also become increasingly advanced and realistic, which was seen this year in the scam that spread through Google Docs.

Compliance And Regulations Will Get Trickier To Maintain

With lax security practices at major corporations being highlighted, governments and other regulators are starting to take action. The European Union General Data Protection Regulation, which is intended to strengthen data protection measures for EU citizens, takes effect in May 2018, and other compliance standards are also being introduced. Companies will need to adhere to a host of security best practices to avoid stricter penalties for noncompliance as the area of data security becomes more regulated.

Cloud-native Patch Automation Will Be Critical To Endpoint Protection

As cybercrime, leaked exploits, and Shadow IT spread, the need for organizations to keep up with patching has become more pressing. Gartner reports that through 2020, known vulnerabilities will account for 99% of all exploitations, whether they are through malware, ransomware, or phishing.

Cloud-native patching ensure compliance, maintains the validity of cyber insurance policies, and reduces your attack surface in real time. We predict that within the next few years many organizations will be required to employ a patching automation system that can automatically identify and apply necessary patches.

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