The Top Five Cybersecurity Threats of 2017

Cyberattackers are working harder than ever to find ways to infect your computer. Despite this, security firms like ourselves are a step ahead, analyzing the latest threats and proactively protecting you against these new attacks.

2017 also presents new challenges in the fight. The so-called ‘Internet of Things’ is a popular new target, while a marked increase in mobile malware – especially on the Android platform – is underway. The 2016 election may have given attackers increased hope that social media attacks will work, while tried and true methods like ransomware and browser redirection continue to cause trouble.

So what should you be on the lookout for? Here are five of the top cybersecurity threats that we’re monitoring in the coming year, and what you can do to protect yourself to stay malware free in 2017.

Image Credit: Yuri Samoilov/Flickr

The Internet of Things

Relatively new in 2017 is a rise in attacks involving the ‘Internet of Things.’ IoT is a broad term that describes the technologies that connect our smart devices together – things like smart locks, thermostats, and security cameras. With a marked increase in smart home adoption expected, IoT attacks will only increase.

Potentially worrisome here is that you have little control on potential security measures. Since IoT is cloud-based, attacks are targeted at the service provider. While we’ll have to be vigilant for local attacks like spoofing of digital keys for smart locks, we’ll have to rely on the security efforts of the smart home industry to ward off attacks.

Mobile Malware, Especially Android

While iOS is not completely immune to malware, Android’s open platform has made it a much more attractive target. A study by Cisco found that the number of attacks rose from only a few thousand infections at the end of 2015 to nearly 24,000 incidents at the end of 2016. While it’s likely the rates will slow, Android infections will increase further in 2017.

Like your desktop computer, you’ll need to take the same types of precautions to avoid infection. Stick to trusted websites when surfing the web on your mobile device, and use official app store outlets like Google Play to download and install apps. Steer clear of suspicious links, even if sent by friends, and carefully review what permissions you give apps when installing them on your device.

Ransomware

Ransomware is not a new threat: attackers have used this technique for many years, forcing you to pay in order to unlock your PC after an infection. This said, recent trends however put this idea on steroids. Worms are now delivering the payloads, infecting large numbers of PCs in short order. The San Francisco Municipal Transit Agency was a recent victim: the company’s ticket machines were taken offline by a ransomware attack in November.

Proactive antivirus software like adaware antivirus is vital for situations like this. While there are many known worm and ransomware vectors, new attack methods are devised everyday. Good antivirus software is able to detect potentially harmful code even before it's included in any virus definition file.

Social Media Scams

Social media users shared an awful lot during the 2016 election, including information from dubious sources. That urge to share, often without looking where its coming from, may give malware makers motivation to ramp up attacks on social media. Attacks may originate from links shared on the services, or suspicious apps that gain access to your Facebook account when you grant them permission to use them.

Use of a full-featured ad blocker like adaware ad block is highly recommended. While the name implies that it only is useful in blocking ads, ad block does much more. It blocks both popups and dangerous sites, so if you mistakenly click on a suspicious link in Facebook, you’ll be blocked from seeing it. This works in concert with adaware antivirus to block malware from suspicious apps.

Browser Redirection

Another tried and true method of malware continues to be a problem in 2017. Browser redirection involves hijacking your browser and causing it to go to other sites than what you expect (like search engines), or unwanted pop-ups containing ads. You might find your homepage or other browser settings changed as well.

Again, ad block combined with antivirus is the best line of defense. Ad block prevents suspicious websites and popups from the start, while proactive monitoring from antivirus ensures that infections are stopped before it gets a chance to take hold.

That's Not All Though

While we’ve listed the top cybersecurity threats we expect in 2017, there are some other issues to be wary about. Even though Flash is on its way out, some sites still use the technology. E-mail spam also continues to increase, although most spam filters these days are catching much of the malicious content that’s out there. Finally, there is an increasing focus on attacks targeting vulnerable browsers and plug-ins/extensions, so it’s vital that you keep your browser up to date and practice caution with what plug-ins and extensions you use.