Plan for the Year Ahead - The Biggest Cybersecurity Threats of 2019

Plan for the Year Ahead - The Biggest Cybersecurity Threats of 2019

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Just another month before we bid farewell to 2018. It is that time of the year again when we tend to ponder over the mistakes and achievements of the year gone by. It’s time to chalk down the resolutions for a fresh new year ahead. A year back, we presented to you the biggest cyber threats to watch out for! As we look forward to another year steeped in greater technological interventions, here are the biggest cybersecurity threats of 2019.

Looking Back & Planning Ahead – Top Cybersecurity Threats to Watch Out For in 2019

The year 2018 has been both eventful and uneventful in terms of technology.

The Good

Cryptocurrency has found its ground and is increasingly gaining trust and popularity. An increasing number of investors have sent the price of cryptocurrencies northwards. In fact, experts predict the volume of the Blockchain technology market to surpass 2 billion USD by 2021.

Secondly, digital transactions are increasing by the day. In India alone, the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) has recorded more than 400 million digital transactions till September 2018.

Furthermore, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet-of-Things (IoT) have taken over corporate spaces, and are swiftly transforming the way businesses function. Chief players such as Microsoft, IBM, Amazon, and Google, are taking progressive steps towards migrating AI services to the cloud. Cloud-based AI services shall make machine learning more accessible to various businesses.

The Not-so-Good

The allegations of Facebook’s misuse of the data of 87 million users was the most talked-about data breach of 2018. As news of the data breach spread, its share prices nosedived and thousands of users exit the social media platform.

Speaking of the worst data breaches in 2018, how can one forget the alleged disclosure of the personal data of nearly 130 million Indians enrolled with the Unique Identification Authority of India?

2018 also witnessed increasing cases of cyberbullying and online harassment. As per a report, the National Child Helpline of India received nearly 187 complaints of online abuse in 2017.

That’s about the year gone by. But, are we headed to a year full of more sophisticated cyber attacks or data breaches? How prepared are you for the cybersecurity threats in 2019?

The Biggest Cybersecurity Threats of 2019

Be alert and proactive towards keeping yourself ‘cyber safe’ with the following list of cybersecurity threats in 2019.

biggest cybersecurity threats of 2019

1. Cryptomining Malware – Cryptojacking

The whole world is grappling with the sudden spurt in the cryptocurrency fever. Have you also considered investing in cryptocurrencies in the upcoming year? Be aware! Cryptojacking is going to be one of the top cybersecurity threats of 2019.

Also called ‘cryptomining malware’, cryptojacking involves infecting the victim’s computer with a virus. The virus ends up using hardware such as processors, servers etc. for cryptomining. This not only reduces the overall performance of the victim’s computer but also yields financial gains for the attacker. Therefore, cryptomining-related cybercrimes are now more lucrative for cyber conmen than ransomware.

2. Software Flaws & Subversion

With the rise in malware attacks, outdated software provides easy loopholes that can be easily exploited by cyber conmen. And the belief that software update is only the desktop or laptop user’s concern is no longer valid. As more and devices get connected to the Internet-of-Things such as smartphones, televisions, digital assistants, refrigerators and even cars, protecting them all from potential cybersecurity threats is critical.

Also, cyber criminals are getting smarter by the day and are now engaging in subverting the software development process. The presence of malware in open source software libraries is increasing. 2019 shall also witness a greater use of third-party applications or services (back channels) to impinge on networks. The use of these back channels can prove even harmful as they can evade conventional detection and protection capabilities.

3. Ransomware

Ransomware is a form of cyber attack that locks a user out of his computer or network of computers until the victim pays a ransom to unlock them.

Did you know that a ransomware hits a company every 40 seconds? Also, the number of ransomware variants has witnessed a sharp rise from 2017 to 2018.

Since its inception, ransomware continues to be one of the favorite weapons of cyber criminals. This is because launching a ransomware attack requires very little work by cyber criminals. With the popularity of IoT and cryptocurrency, ransomware is set to give cybersecurity managers a tough time as one of the biggest cybersecurity threats of 2019.

4. Phishing

Phishing is no longer unfamiliar to laymen, especially as it is also one of the biggest cybersecurity threats of 2019. It involves the extraction of sensitive details such as passwords, user names and financial details through fraudulent electronic communication. In this, the attacker poses as a trustworthy source and deceives the victim into opening a spam email, text message or instant message.

Did you know? Phishing scams target every 3 out of 4 companies each day! A Symantec Internet Security Threat Report shows that an average user receives 16 malicious email spams each month. Usually executed in the form of spam emails, we are expecting this trend to continue through 2019.

5. Botnets

The ‘cybersecurity threats 2019’ list is incomplete without the mention of Botnets. Botnets are controlled remotely by cyber criminals and executed using a complicated network of compromised devices. Large-scale botnet attacks can involve millions of compromised computers and systems. Botnet attacks are further used to launch Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, send spam, execute brute force attacks and steal sensitive information.

The potential of botnets in disrupting computer networks is evident from the recent memcached DDoS attack on GitHub. 1.35 terabits per second of traffic hit this leading software development platform bringing down its systems and network.

6. Deepfake

Deepfake is the latest menace adorning the Wall of Shame for the misuse of technology. It is a technique that uses Artificial Intelligence to morph images and videos and create fake images/videos. This technique is way more advanced fake news or photoshopped memes is harder to corroborate and has the potential of causing greater harm. Often to create revenge porn, deepfake is the latest tool to sabotage the public image of celebrities and politicians.

Deepfakes became known to the world earlier this year when a video created by BuzzFeed depicting Barrack Obama mocking Donald Trump became viral. The video, though, created to showcase the power of deepfakes but it rings a clear warning bell for the year ahead. Fake and doctored videos/images involving politicians can have a serious impact on their voter base. This can irreversibly subvert political campaigns and election results.

The Potential Targets of the Top Cybersecurity Threats in 2019

The internet may have made the world a smaller place but it has also increased our vulnerability to cyber attacks. As we take progressive steps to adapt to newer technologies, here are the potential targets of the top cybersecurity threats in 2019.


The internet has brought the world at the tip of our fingers in the form of smartphones. However, the more mobile we become, the more we jeopardize the cybersecurity of personal and corporate spaces. We all tend to be quite careless with our smartphone but beware, this callousness can bring upon great adversity!

Remember, hackers or infiltrators can easily break into your phone’s data and misuse them in the absence of strong passwords. Many smartphone applications can also act as gateways to malware/virus attacks, or lead to a breach of data and/or safety.


The Internet-of-Things hold great potential for the future, but it also poses grave security threats. Gradually, more and more devices and spaces are being connected to the Internet-of-Things. For instance, a smart home that comprises smart devices and gadgets connected to each other and the internet. But, in the absence of adequate awareness and security, smart homes can invite hackers galore to exploit the security loopholes.

Cloud Applications

The widespread availability and usage of the internet have powered the movement of applications and data to the cloud. With every new application moved to the cloud, you need to entrust another organization with the security of your data. Cloud migration enables validated users to access applications and data from anywhere. This creates a greater challenge in ensuring data security and a greater possibility of cloud security attacks.

Prepare for the Year Ahead with Incognito Forensic Foundation (IFF Lab)

The ever-increasing number of internet users provides cyber criminals with a larger pool of potential targets. Given the cybersecurity attacks of 2018, we have a premonition that 2019 shall witness higher and more sophisticated cyber attacks. Although ransomware, malware and phishing attacks are all set to grow stronger as weapons of cyber attacks, the reckless use of more devices connected to the internet shall pave the way for some of the biggest cybersecurity threats of 2019.

IFF Lab is a private cyber and digital forensics lab in Bangalore, India. With a state-of-the-art forensics laboratory and the best-in-class experts, IFF Lab provides assistance and consultation on cybersecurity measures. It conducts a thorough analysis of an organization’s existing vulnerabilities and provides them with cybersecurity and incident response strategies.

Get in touch with IFF Lab for Cyber Security Analysis and Data Protection Services.