Online security is seemingly getting more compromised with each passing year. 2017 has witnessed some of the worst security breaches in history — such as the breach of Equifax, which impacted over 143-million clients in the US and abroad. There were also three major state-sponsored ransomware attacks, affecting hundreds of thousands of targets around the world. Unfortunately, it looks like this is just the beginning.
“Ransomware assaults seem to be getting increasingly dangerous,” says Marty Kamden, chief marketing officer of NordVPN. “Besides, system administrators are not ready to protect their networks from more sophisticated breaches. We believe that attacks will only keep getting worse.”
In addition, Internet freedom has been on a steady decline. For example, in the US, ISPs have the right to track customer data without consent and sell it to third parties, and net neutrality is under attack. Other countries are also passing freedom-limiting laws.
NordVPN offers the following predictions for 2018, as well as advice on how to protect oneself:
* Increase in IoT attacks. As Internet of Things (IoT) devices become common-use, they will continue to come under attack. When one device is compromised, the hacker can easily overtake the whole system of interconnected devices. One of the biggest fears is that hackers might compromise medical IoT devices, and patients’ information can be leaked. A connected smart home will be another popular target for hackers. What’s more, breached IoT devices can be used in vast scale DDoS attacks, putting down virtually any Internet based service or website.
* Increase in travel data breach. Hackers are discovering that travelers who book their trips online share their passport and credit card data, which can be stolen. This marks the move towards specific online breaches, targeting groups of people — such as travelers, online Christmas shoppers, and others.
* New, larger ransomware attacks. This year has shown the power of one ransomware attack that can disable hundreds of thousands of computers around the world. Companies are not yet up to speed with sophisticated hacker technologies, so there is a huge risk of new, larger ransomware attacks.
* China to ban VPNs. China’s government passed a regulation that requires telecommunications carriers to block users’ access to private, government unapproved VPNs (Virtual Private Networks) by February. This would mean that lots of people in China will not be able to reach the global internet, as many sites – such as Google or Facebook – are blocked in China.
* The EU is implementing General Data Protection Regulation. GDPR, coming into force in May, is going to introduce stricter rules for companies on storing personal user data and on obtaining customer consent. The regulation will have global reach and force companies to protect user data – being one of the rare examples of governments striving to actually protect data privacy.
* Digital Economy Bill in the UK. The UK is planning to pass a bill that requires age verification for adult site visitors. Age verification is done through collecting various data about the user, which poses a huge risk of data leaks and data loss, with sensitive private information being stolen.
* Dutch referendum on government surveillance powers. The Netherlands will hold a referendum next year to determine if the law enforcement authorities can have far-reaching surveillance powers. Many privacy activists are striving to overturn the law passed in July, which allows government agencies to collect data from large groups of people at once.
How to secure your web presence in 2018
Internet users can still take matters into their own hands and secure their own computers or smart devices. It’s important not to click on strange emailed links, not to download from unofficial app marketplaces, to always have strong passwords, and to be generally cautious when going online.
It’s also highly recommended to use online privacy tools, such as VPNs, which encrypt all the information that is being shared between the user and VPN server. NordVPN helps secure browsing the Internet with its modern security protocols and no logs policy.
With the decline in online security and privacy, cybersecurity specialists will be in big demand, and companies will be looking to fill new job openings for cybersecurity professionals. Those who want to protect their own data at home, need to learn simple cybersecurity tricks themselves.