The cyber threat environment is becoming more dangerous every day. A recent survey by the World Economic Forum revealed that cyber-attacks were the number-one concern of executives in Europe and other advanced economies.

As we approach the winter holidays and the end of the year, let’s examine the top cyber security threats enterprises can expect to grapple with in 2019.

Phishing Schemes

Nearly all successful cyber-attacks begin with a phishing scheme. Business email compromise (BEC), a highly targeted spear phishing technique, is responsible for over $12 billion in losses globally. Although many people still equate phishing with emails, this cyber security threat has evolved, with hackers employing text messages, phone calls, and even social media “quizzes” to trick unwitting victims.

Cloud Cyber Security Threats

Cloud computing has transformed the ways in which we live and conduct business, but it has also given hackers a broader attack surface and created a host of brand-new cyber security threats and vulnerabilities, from cloud malware to misconfigured AWS buckets. Cloud security must be addressed differently than on-premises security, and solid cloud security starts with a secure cloud migration.

Shadow IT

Over 80% of employees admit to using shadow IT apps at work. Most of the time, their motivations are not malicious or negligent; they’re just trying to do their jobs better. However, shadow IT usage is a serious compliance and cyber security threat. These rogue apps may have security or compliance issues that users are unaware of, and since internal IT departments aren’t even aware of the apps, they cannot monitor access logs, ensure that regular backups are performed, or apply important software updates.


Cryptojacking malware, which allows hackers to hijack enterprise computer equipment for the purpose of “mining” cryptocurrencies, is now more common than ransomware. Once a minor annoyance that primarily targeted small consumer devices, modern cryptojacking malware is designed to go after enterprise networks, where it poses a very serious cyber security threat, crashing applications and even damaging hardware.


Cryptojacking malware may be more common, but that doesn’t mean ransomware is any less of a cyber security threat. Healthcare and critical infrastructure systems are particularly at risk. One-quarter of SamSam ransomware victims are in the healthcare sector, and SamSam was the culprit in the City of Atlanta ransomware attack. Authorities believe the SamSam hackers have earned over $6 million from their malware.

Unsecured IoT Devices

Smart devices are proliferating like rabbits, but a lack of common security standards means many devices suffer from serious security vulnerabilities. Forty-five percent of enterprise IoT buyers cite cyber security as a significant barrier to purchase, and as cases of everything from baby monitors to home security cameras being hacked hit the news, cyber security threats loom large over consumer purchases as well. Both the public and private sector are scrambling to secure the Internet of Things. In recent weeks, NIST released guidelines for securing for medical IoT devices, and Microsoft launched a public preview of its new solution for developing secure smart devices.

Attacks on Operational Technology (OT) Systems

Cyber-attacks on operational technology (OT) — the “behind-the-scenes” systems and equipment that power factories, mining operations, and critical infrastructure –don’t just cripple business operations. They present threats to the health and lives of employees and the general public, and they are increasing in frequency. OT systems face vulnerabilities and cyber security threats that are starkly different from those that threaten IT systems, and air-gapping, a common fix, cannot be depended on as a standalone solution.

Author's Bio: 

Michael Peters is the CEO of Lazarus Alliance, Inc., the Proactive Cyber Security™ firm, and Continuum GRC. He has served as an independent information security consultant, executive, researcher, and author. He is an internationally recognized and awarded security expert with years of IT and business leadership experience and many previous executive leadership positions.

He has contributed significantly to curriculum development for graduate degree programs in information security, advanced technology, cyberspace law, and privacy, and to industry standard professional certifications. He has been featured in many publications and broadcast media outlets as the “Go-to Guy” for executive leadership, information security, cyberspace law, and governance.