Skip to main content
Northwestern University

Security Trends of 2018

Looking back at the top security stories of 2018, it will be remembered as the year that privacy topics rose to public attention. I've pulled out some of the stories on this and other security topics that capture the trends of 2018. Read on for my top four cybersecurity trends and for further reading ideas.


Among this year's stories, the most notorious come from Facebook's testimony before Congress, to plans for a global DNA database, and Marriott's Data Breach. These stories demonstrate that the data we generate through social media and commercial transactions is not always guarded carefully or used in the manner we originally intended. Questions about how data is used by third parties, whether data sharing agreements are being followed, and who has your personal data continue to deserve our attention. The question is not if personal data breaches will happen again, but who is next?

Cost of Cybercrime

It is estimated that over $1 trillion in damages was caused by cybercrime in 2018, a global record to date. This amount is the aggregate damage caused by malware, phishing, ransomware payment, and cost of personnel hours to rebuild/recover lost data. This also includes the cost of brand damage and cyber extortion. Quite possibly this record amount will be broken year after year as a result of human error and a shortage of IT professionals that specialize in security.

Human Error

It is unfortunate that human error is still the biggest source of security issues, estimated at the high rate of 95% incidence. This accidental damage is not caused by malware, phishing or social engineering, but is caused by human operators who have legal access to the systems affected. However, those mistakes can be minimized and sometimes mitigated by all of us improving our skills in using enterprise systems. To address this very common status quo, Weinberg College IT is working on providing good resources for security awareness and education for the College. To start, check out the Security section of our website and my blog for ongoing security education.

Growing Need for Cybersecurity Professionals

With the growth of networks and the increased number of devices joining the internet, there is more demand for cybersecurity professionals. There is a growing concern that a current shortage of talent means that there aren't enough credible cyber defense strategies to keep cyber criminals at bay. As more unpatched, vulnerable devices appear online, security gaps that can be exploited will only increase.

Recent figures estimate that forty-four breaches happen every second and that someone in the world is getting hacked every thirty-nine seconds. The numbers will keep getting bigger, and there is no indication that this will see a reverse in 2019. This is a big deal for criminals, as they build their botnets from zombie devices infected by their malware. The need for educated users and security professionals was proven in 2018. What data and cyber security topics would you like to learn more about in 2019?

Top 10 Stories and Trends from 2018

- "Tech's invasion of our privacy made us more paranoid in 2018"  

- "Data Breaches 2018: The 20 Biggest Breaches of the Year

- "Cryptomining overtakes Ransomeware as leading malware and cause of headaches for IT

- "The Cybersecurity Talent Gap is An Industry Crisis"

- "Landmark ransomware campaign"

- "AI in cyber security: a help or hindrance?"

- "Why cloud (By Default) gives you security you couldn't afford otherwise

- Nation-states, terrorists place critical infrastructure in their cross-hairs

- "Smart home security devices may be vulnerable to smart hackers

- "A five-phase road map for digital transformation"  

Back to top