From online gaming, to mobile apps and wearable tech, technology is used at almost every touchpoint in people’s day-to-day lives. However, the downside of living in this hyper-connected society means that people are extremely vulnerable to cyberattacks.

Last year revealed that malware can infiltrate everyday technology, and this trend is unlikely to let up in the year ahead. Here are some of the things we noticed in 2017, and what to watch out for in the coming year.

  1. Ransomware: It’s on every platform and it’s targeting the money

    This year, WannaCry accounted for more than 45% of all ransomware tracked, closely followed by Cerber at 44%, according to Sophos’s most recent malware report. While it shouldn’t be a surprise, it caused a worldwide shakeup and represents just the tip of the iceberg for what we can expect in 2018.

    In September alone, 30% of malicious Android malware processed by SophosLabs was ransomware, and this figure was expected to jump to approximately 45% in October. Most of these attacks have targeted Windows users, but the number of attacks on other platforms is increasing, including those targeting Android, Macs and Linux.

    Interestingly, the past two years have seen ransomware attacks become more strategic, shifting focus towards industries that are most likely to pay up, such as health care, government, critical infrastructure, and small business. Due to it being one of the most lucrative industries for ransomware payments for medical records, health care has been a big target in 2017 and will without a doubt see more attacks in 2018.

  2. Malware is hiding in Android apps

    Malware was found to be hiding in Android apps such as Google Play, where it was found that the number of different threats had doubled since last year. One type of malware, dubbed GhostClicker, sat in Google Play for almost a year, disguising itself as part of the service library.

    It then requested device administration permission, and actively simulated click-on advertisements to earn revenue.

    Cyber criminals know that malware works, and so it’s showing no sign of reducing in the future. Being a victim to these types of attacks is incredibly inconvenient and potentially costly, so it’s worth understanding some ways in which consumers can combat being a victim of Android malware.

    Try some of these tips:

    • Stick to Google Play

      Although it isn’t perfect, it puts plenty of effort into preventing malware arriving in the first place

    • Avoid apps with a low reputation

      Be especially wary of this when using a work phone

    • Patch early, patch often

      Check the vendors attitude towards updates

  3. Online gaming is being used to spread ransomware and malware

    Online gaming has been adopted as a popular conduit for spreading ransomware and malware over the course of 2017. This year for example, fake copies of the popular game King of Glory were used to spread ransomware.

    The warning screen mimicked the one used during the WannaCry outbreak, directing individuals to pay the ransom through the China-based WeChat, Alipay and QQ payment methods.

    The number of malicious apps has risen steadily in the past four years, peaking at nearly 3.5 million in 2017. Naturally, we are expecting to see this figure rise further in 2018, as well as the number of more deceptive online gaming traps.

  4. Data breaches are rife

    One of the downsides of living in a hyper-connected society is that people are extremely vulnerable to cyberattacks, as shown in the past few weeks with the Uber hack, which affected 1.2 million Australian riders and drivers alone.

    Sadly, we don’t see these data breaches reducing in 2018, and with General Data Protection Regulation coming into effect in May it will continue to be a hot topic.

  5. 2018 and beyond

    While the nature of cybercrime makes it difficult to track and predict, there are a number of trends that we expect to continue or emerge in 2018. For example, Android and Windows will continue to be heavily targeted with ransomware and other malware, and email will also remain the primary attack vector threatening corporate cybersecurity, especially in the case of targeted attacks.

    Four trends that are expected to dominate in 2018 are:

    1. A ransomware surge fuelled by Ransomware as a Service (RaaS) packages available in the underground market and amplified by the resurgence of worms;
    2. An explosion of Android malware on Google Play and elsewhere;
    3. Continued efforts to infect Mac computers; and
    4. Ongoing Windows threats, fuelled by DIY exploit kits that make it easy to target Microsoft Office vulnerabilities.

Year on year, we are seeing cybercriminals become more cunning in their attacks, making it increasingly important for consumers and businesses alike to be aware of the dangers out there. Keep an eye out for these trends in 2018, and be sure to put the necessary protections in place to avoid being a victim.