Watch out for ransomware in 2018: report

The McAfee Labs 2018 Threats Predictions Report also warns individual home users that greater inter-connected home devices will surrender consumer privacy to corporates.

December 03, 2017 06:33 pm | Updated December 03, 2021 12:41 pm IST - NEW DELHI

Ransomware attacks in the cyberspace are likely to increase and become more sophisticated in 2018 targeting high net worth individuals and corporates, McAfee Inc. warned in its latest prediction report. The report also warns individual home users that greater inter-connected home devices will surrender consumer privacy to corporates.

“The profitability of traditional ransomware campaigns will continue to decline as vendor defenses, user education, and industry strategies improve to counter them. Attackers will adjust to target less traditional, more profitable ransomware targets, including high net-worth individuals, connected devices, and businesses,” the McAfee Labs 2018 Threats Predictions Report stated.

The report which identified five key trends to watch in the next year stated that the pivot from the traditional will see ransomware technologies applied beyond the objective of extortion of individuals, to cyber sabotage and disruption of organizations.

This year saw major explosion in ransomware attacks in which attackers limit a user’s access their own system till a certain ransom is paid to unlock it.

“The evolution of ransomware in 2017 should remind us of how aggressively a threat can reinvent itself as attackers dramatically innovate and adjust to the successful efforts of defenders,” said Steve Grobman, Chief Technology Officer for McAfee in a statement.

In this race, Mr. Grobman said there is an ‘arms race’ between attackers and defenders and “human intelligence amplified by technology will be the winning factor.”

Compromising consumer privacy

As consumers increasingly network their homes, the report warns that connected home device manufacturers and service providers will seek to overcome “thin profit margins by gathering more of our personal data—with or without our agreement—turning the home into a corporate store front.”

“Corporate marketers will have powerful incentives to observe consumer behavior in order to understand the buying needs and preferences of the device owners. Because customers rarely read privacy agreements, corporations will be tempted to frequently change them after the devices and services are deployed to capture more information and revenue,” the report said.

There will be regulatory consequences for corporations that make the calculation to break existing laws, pay fines, and continue such practices, thinking they can do so profitably, McAfee added.

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