Remaining vigilant and proactive are key strategies for cybersecurity experts in 2019. Hackers find new ways to exploit vulnerabilities on public and private computer networks. Information technology (IT) industry leaders appeal to everyone from consumers to corporate technical architects to adopt protocols that make technology safer and more reliable to use. Here are some cybersecurity threats and trends to watch in 2019.
Viruses as Weapons of Mass Destruction
When diplomacy doesn't work, leaders of national governments have been known to resort to unconventional warfare tactics to effect change. Instead of directly declaring war and dropping bombs, these governments have been known to stage cyber-attacks on other countries' public and private networks.
In December 2018, the U.S. Department of Justice put out a statement about the criminal charges that it levied against two Chinese hackers who breached a network to steal intellectual property. The hackers worked for China's Ministry of State Security. Was pressure to fix trade imbalances between the United States and China the motive for the attack?
More recently, Venezuelan leaders accused the United States and its allies of sabotaging Venezuela's power grid and causing a country-wide blackout. Some have hinted that attackers used the computer virus Stuxnet to bring the power grid down; the worm is not detected by most antivirus software. The two countries have been at odds about the use of Venezuela's gold and oil assets as they relate to U.S. business interests.
Hijacked Hardware for Crypto Mining
Many national currencies are in a state of decline or instability as financial experts look for solutions that'll bring permanent economic health and prosperity to their respective countries. These leaders are giving digital currencies a serious look. Meanwhile, cybercriminals attempt to grow their cryptocurrency wealth by any means necessary. They often hijack the computer systems of individuals and businesses for crypto mining activities.
Stealing authentication credentials and cracking passwords are common skills for today's cybercriminals. These thieves continue to steal credentials because it works, and their first acts aren't usually thwarted by sophisticated antivirus software. Biometric-based authentication systems such as fingerprint readers and iris scanners eliminate network breaches that are caused by stolen credentials.
Labor Shortage of Cybersecurity Talent
People who are worried about global competition for IT jobs need to check out the field of cybersecurity. According to industry analysts, there is a growing shortage of trained, cybersecurity talent. Someone who wants to break into a computer security job needs training and credentials. Four-year degree seekers take programs such as Drexel's BS in Computing and Security Technology. Those who already have a bachelor's degree often earn certificates through specialized training programs such as the EC Council's Certified Ethical Hacker course.
In 2019, IT security specialists will continue to use their knowledge of network protocols and advanced antivirus tools to prevent, contain, and clean up cyberspace's most costly digital messes. Hackers will use old viruses in new ways to exploit vulnerable computer networks everywhere. Their attacks have a surprising bright side, however, for people who are willing to get the proper education and training.
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