Earlier this year the business world was rocked by the ransomware attacks WannaCry and NotPetya. Companies were affected across the globe. Every industry felt the sting, chocolate factories in Australia, shipping companies in the Netherlands, even the UK’s National Health Service fell victim. The attack caused hundreds of millions of dollars in losses to both government and industry.  

In 2015, the global damage caused by ransomware attacks was $325 million US dollars. By the end of this year, that figure is expected to exceed $5 billion.

Ransomware is a type of malware that blocks access to a computer or the data on a machine, and then demands money for its release. Hackers made out with hundreds of thousands of dollars as individuals and some corporations affected by the malware gave in to demands and paid up to $600 in ransom to unlock their machines and regain their personal data. WannaCry used worm functionality to spread the malware, and NotPetya spread through a software update mechanism in an accounting program that companies working with the Ukrainian government are required to use.

But ransomware is just one part of an already global problem. Malware is one of the most prolific and adaptive cybersecurity issues. Within the third quarter of this year alone, over 400 million malware incidents have been detected world-wide. Ransomware proving to be a particularly tricky and growing problem for businesses right now. Twenty-six percent of ransomware attacks in 2017 directly targeted companies. 2018 is only going to see these threats and large-scale attacks increase.

The Internet of Things is only going to contribute to the risks, with a greater range of devices connecting to the internet, such as medical devices. The greater connectivity means more accurate data and analytics and presumably, better patient care, but it will also fuel new data security concerns surrounding patient information and their legal rights.

Cybercriminals will target and exploit security software directly, targeting trusted programs. Hackers will exploit security products, like your anti-virus or a website malware removal service  by intercepting and redirecting cloud traffic, or even directly subverting the agent on the endpoint, that is the human being sitting in front of the infected machine. Attackers will also leverage growing technologies, like blockchain and machine learning, to act as a smoke-screen against traditional cybersecurity protections.

Every year, we see both the sophistication of hacks and data breaches reach new heights in costs, both loss and damages, and the news headlines are becoming all to frequent.

These events are a cause for concern for those in the business of cybersecurity. Hacks like the Equifax hack in September of this year contribute to a risk in the deterioration of public perceptions regarding the effectiveness of security software and anti-virus solutions. The good news is destructive attacks like those seen in 2017 have made the importance of effective cybersecurity obvious.

Now the task is to ensure that 2018’s solutions evolve with these trends and provide businesses with multiple layers of protection against damaging malware attacks.