Cyber security threats to watch out for

It seems that as soon as cyber security professionals nail down a solution for one threat, new ones emerge. If that isn't bad enough, industry experts project cybercriminals won't be hitting the brakes any time soon.

In fact, with society so reliant upon a digital existence, they anticipate these crooks to amp up their exploits. Here are some top cyber security threats to continue to watch out for.

Cloud threats

As the cloud continues to dominate as a game-changing technology, it's no surprise cybercriminals are actively looking for ways to exploit it. Unfortunately, while we have all come to rely heavily upon the cloud, for many of us, our security practices haven't quite caught up. Here are a few things exploiters do to gain access to cloud systems:

  • Steal passwords.
  • Launch phishing attacks.
  • Reconfigure settings to allow access or otherwise impair security measures that are in place.
  • Search for unencrypted cloud systems for valuable data.

While there are still kinks to work out where security and the cloud are concerned, one thing is clear: as storage and productivity apps continue to migrate from legacy systems, cyber attackers will want to gain access to all the data stored in the cloud.

Artificial intelligence

AI is steadily working its way into various industries and has evolved beyond the novelty stage to everyday use. As a result, industries are amassing tremendous amounts of data, and this is leading researchers to be concerned about cybercriminals finding ways to exploit this technology. As broad acceptance of AI continues, bad actors are expected to start employing the technology to do their dirty work.

  • Cybercriminals will look at AI systems as attack targets.
  • Exploiters will seek to enlist AI tech to launch their own attacks.
  • AI will take advantage of increasingly-sophisticated social engineering attacks and phishing.
  • AI could be used to mimic authoritative sources and fool unsuspecting victims.

Ironically, AI is also expected to help boost cyber security efforts, but experts worry it could be a double-edged sword.

Cross-site scripting

Attackers employing this method of attack exploit business websites to execute malicious code into the browsers of unsuspecting victims. According to some reports, over 21 percent of vulnerabilities found by bug bounty programs are cross-site scripting.

Cybercriminals no longer focus their sole attention on large corporations, but are actively targeting small businesses and individuals as well. While smaller targets may not bring the huge payoffs that come from a successful attack on a major corporation, they are typically easier to exploit because these entities don't have the tools or resources of in-house IT departments to protect themselves.

The good news is everyone can kick up their security a notch by using a private VPN and tightening security on personal data with strong, unique passwords for each account. Here’s a password manager guide to help you decide which password manager app is best for you. Yes, Sticky Password is on the list.

Mobile malware

Mobile malware is expected to continue to be a thorny issue in the cyber security realm, especially as users continue to gravitate towards using their phones as primary computing devices. Human actions play a large role in how hackers craft their mobile attacks.

  • Many users habitually connect to unsecured Wi-Fi connections; hackers like to spoof fake networks or target open ones.
  • Users often don't utilize mobile security tools and exploiters will seek to pursue easy targets.
  • Exploiters take advantage of smaller screens by hiding phishing attacks, launching them before users can spot clues.

The openness and ease of access to connect have created layers of complacency in our always-connected society. Add BYOD to the mix where employees are using personal phones for work purposes and the potential payoff becomes even more appealing for hackers. To combat this risk, it'll take behavioral changes and more education about cyber security threats.


Despite the first ransomware event occurring way back in 1989, this threat continues to persist, reaching record levels in 2017. This type of nefarious attack intensified during 2018 and experts predict it will continue to raise its ugly head throughout 2019, especially as people become even more dependent on their files.

Considering how ransomware persists, it's not surprising crypto-jacking has also emerged as a serious threat. It's a modern form of bank robbery and the thieves are employing many of the same methods they use for ransomware. Research conducted in 2018 found 33,000 websites were running crypto mining scripts. Notably, a cybercriminal doesn't even need to be particularly skilled or tech-savvy because crypto-jacking kits can be bought on the dark web for a mere $30.


Unfortunately, online threats have evolved to become a part of everyday life. However, armed with knowledge and tools, both businesses and individuals can better protect themselves in 2019 and beyond. It's a smart strategy for users to have awareness of current threats and data breaches so that they can employ basic tools to protect themselves and those around them.

About the author

Christopher Nichols has always enjoyed using new technology advancements to scale marketing efforts. He believes in data-driven marketing and in practices it in his agency, Strictly Digital.