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Cyber Predictions for 2019

Dec. 12, 2018
2018 was a rather prolific year for both innovation and also cybercrime.

By Nick Espinosa

With the death of a year comes the hope for the next. Understanding where we have been ensures that we understand where we are going, or at least where we can be in the near future if we apply the lessons of past triumph and failure.

2018 was a rather prolific year for both innovation and also cybercrime. From advancements in Artificial Intelligence and robotics to some of the most malicious hacks this planet has ever faced, we can't help but use this past year's trends as a base for predictions for the upcoming year. Some of these predictions are obvious, some not so much, but all of them are rooted in the reality of where we've been which may tell where we are going.

As your Nerdstradamus, for this article anyway, I predict for 2019:

#1 Data Breaches Will Continue To Increase

By 2021 we, meaning all of us from individuals to corporations to governments, will have spent a collective $1 trillion on cyberdefense strategies. Also, by 2021, hackers will have extracted over $6 trillion from us (both figures according to Cybersecurity Ventures -- see their Market Report and estimate on Cybercrime Damages). 2019 is just another milestone along the way. 2018 saw over 5,000 major breaches from organizations worldwide totaling roughly 15 billion records exposed (we only have the official numbers from the first six months of 2018 at the moment but the trending for the back half of the year makes this estimate probably low). 2018 gave us data breaches from Panera, Facebook, Under Armour, Marriott and much much more.

Mechanical Contractors still hold a top 10 spot in viable targets for hacking, alongside other prominent verticals such as financial services, legal services and healthcare providers. Mechanical contractors typically cater to much larger corporations and organizations and tend to have less cyberdefense strategies in place which leads to an easy conduit for hackers to hit said larger organizations due to the remote access that many mechanical contractors have in their customers.

#2 IoT Security Will Ramp Up Tremendously

We have been seeing this trend for the last couple of years now and there are no signs of it slowing down. Smart devices for construction and mechanical services are starting to be adopted by mid sized businesses faster since the costs for this technology is now coming down due to mass production. Smart Building technology is now basically being required in the construction process due to the centralization of control. With all this amazing new technology, though, comes some risks. Many IoT products are rushed to market to undercut other competing products soon to be released. By virtue of this, developers often cut a few corners when it comes to baking in defense capabilities for these devices, thus making them rather ripe targets for hackers.

In 2019 we will see fully developed IoT defense packages from Microsoft, IBM and others. By sheltering these vulnerable IoT devices in a fully defended infrastructure we are mitigating the hackers' ability to compromise critical systems. The goal for businesses that rely on these devices is to ensure their security, whether it's through an entire packaged solution or bringing their own cyberdefense strategy to the table.

#3 Automation Will Show Us Who The Industry Leaders Are

The first 100% fully automated, robots only, factory came online in 2018 in Japan and others are rushing to emulate them. Imagine a job that requires a minimal amount of labor that is finished exponentially faster due to a workforce being able to work 24 hours a day without a break.

When we look at some of the automated technologies that directly impact the mechanical industries we can go beyond the smart tech that is currently in the mainstream like automated thermostats. We have robotics that can drywall an entire room without stopping in a fraction of the time of human workers, 3D printing concrete machines that have built entire habitable structures and more! The questions we are going to be facing is how the cost balance of all this automation versus humans on the payroll plays out. Even in 2019 we won't everything automated but we are beginning to this process unfold.

#4 Mobile Workforces Will Increase In Threat To Businesses

Infections for both Android and iPhones continue to increase as they are now the largest threat vector on the planet for technology. 2019 will see this trend continue. Interestingly enough we have never really associated mobile phones with computers though that is literally what a Smart Phone is; a mobile handheld computer that happens to make phone calls. Think of all the things a mobile phone actually does and making actual calls usually isn't first place for most people in terms of use!

By virtue of this we have seen, and will continue to see, an increase in mobile defense technologies. In the construction industry mobile workforces are easy targets due to the use free internet connections at places like coffee shops, hotels and other places as well as a lack of a full mobile device management system, which I rarely see running when dealing with the construction and mechanical verticals. In 2019 proper cyberdefense for the mobile workforce should be on everyone's mind.

#5 Smellevision Replaces Television!

Ok, maybe not. If you're not familiar with the 1944 Bugs Bunny cartoon, The Old Grey Hare, that was a future headline about tomorrow's technology. The point here is that we don't necessarily know what the next big thing will be. We are advancing on so many fronts in technology and cybersecurity that we're on the cusp of new innovations that few have even thought about it!

Artificial Intelligence is evolving from Machine Learning to Deep Learning which means, in a nutshell, that AI is getting so accurate we can start letting AI models make decisions on it's own to remediate situations and problems (insert SkyNet/Terminator joke here). New defensive methodologies and technologies to defend corporate networks, including remote users, such Zero Trust infrastructure and Software Defined Perimeters are ensuring that hackers cannot outbreak infections on a network. These solutions are now at a point where they are starting to displace standard network and security design like traditional network setups and virtual private networks (VPNs) for security! With this emergence comes the parallel emergence of the mechanical contractor that is hardened against any kind of cyber attack!

So here's to 2019! May we learn from 2018 as best can!

As an expert in security and network infrastructure on multiple platforms, Nick Espinoza has consulted with clients ranging up to the Fortune 100 level. He has designed, built, and implemented multinational networks, encryption systems, and multi-tiered infrastructures as well as small business environments. He is passionate about emerging technology and enjoys creating, breaking, and fixing test environments. He can be reached on LinkedIn at, or on Twitter at