It’s impossible to predict exactly what cybercrime will look like in the future – cybercriminals are constantly finding creative new ways to exploit people, while cybersecurity is constantly evolving in order to defend against these attacks.
However, judging from trends in the last few years, it is possible to gain a few insights as to what is likely to happen in the near future. Unfortunately, cyberattacks are on the rise and they are frequently becoming more successful. The likes of ransomware are a particular concern. This post explains more about what to expect – and how to protect yourself.
The rise of ‘small dollar’ ransomware attacks
Ransomware attacks are one of the nastiest types of cyberattack. Victims will typically click on a link in an email or site, which will download malicious software onto their system. This software prevents you from accessing all your data until a ransom is paid. Some forms of ransomware may even permanently encrypt or delete all your data if a ransom isn’t paid by a certain deadline.
Until recently, ransomware attacks were largely targeted at relatively big companies and wealthy individuals – often demanding hundreds of thousands of dollars. However, there’s been a growth in ‘small dollar’ ransomware attacks targeted at smaller companies and everyday individuals – these don’t demand as much money, although it’s typically still thousands of dollars. Many cybercriminals have found that while they’re able to get less money from these victims, they’re almost always successful due to many of us taking much weaker security measures.
A possible rise in infrastructure attacks
The likes of Daniel Menard predict that there will be much more ransomware attacks aimed at US critical infrastructure. In recent years, attacks on wastewater treatment plants such as Maine sewage treatment plants have become more common – local plants are often poorly equipped to deal with cyberattacks and so these attacks tend to be more successful.
The worrying thing about these attacks is that they could cause a devastating impact to infrastructure. If an attack stalls operations, it could result in wastewater not being processed properly, which could result in the drinking supply being contaminated with waste. This is how diseases like cholera spread.
Cybercriminals have already shown that they have no mercy as to where they target. Hospitals, schools, nursing homes and even charities have been hit in recent years – cybercriminals do not care about the damage they could cause.
How can you protect yourself
It’s important that everyone starts to take precautions against ransomware attacks. This involves backing up files and using ransomware protection tools to help cut off access to these backup files in the event of an attack. Most antivirus software tools now have ransomware protection in place, but a lot of people haven’t set it up. It’s worth noting that it’s not just desktops and laptops that can be targeted, but also tablets and smartphones – so it’s worth protecting all devices.
On top of this, it’s important to take great caution when clicking on unknown websites or links in emails. If a website or email is flagged as suspicious, you should think twice before clicking on it. This guide at MetaCompliance offers a few tips on how to detect ransomware emails.