7 Cybersecurity Trends and Threats to Expect in 2020Donna Marie Padua
Cybersecurity is a fast-evolving game of wits where hackers and defenders continue to outmaneuver one another. Staying up to date with the latest trends in cybersecurity is not only beneficial; it’s imperative for everyone involved.
Large-scale data breaches always make it to the headlines – like this year’s Facebook, Toyota, Microsoft, and American Medical Collection Agency attacks. But the attacks are becoming less discriminatory – with hackers targeting more small businesses and consumers directly. This year saw a 50% jump from four years ago in the number of data breaches. Tech Republic notes that over 3,800 data breaches have hit organizations this year alone.
Attacks are not only rising in numbers, but also in quality. With technology becoming more sophisticated and disruption coming at every turn, cyberattacks are becoming more persistent and complex.
In 2020, you should be aware of the following trends in cybersecurity:
7 Cybersecurity Predictions for Year 2020
If you want to survive 2020 without facing losses in your business or your personal account because of cybercriminals, you have to be aware of what you should avoid so you can come up with the right counterattack or prevention strategies. Here are some that you must know about 2020’s cybersecurity scene:
- The Evergreen Phishing Threat
Phishing attacks remain an effective method of stealing credentials and identities, distributing malware, eliciting fraudulent payments, cryptojacking (cryptocurrency mining) and so on, and the threat is not going away any year soon.
The same goes for ransomware attacks, which continue to provide a solid source of income for international cybercrime. Effective protection requires not just proper cybersecurity training for all employees and business partners, but also in-depth security and vulnerability management to prevent attackers from obtaining confidential information used in phishing attempts.
- Risks Related to IoT Devices
In the race to deliver new products and technologies, security is seldom the first consideration, so it’s no surprise that the booming IoT (Internet of Things) space has brought a wealth of security blunders. Hard-coded credentials, insecure wireless communication, unencrypted personal data, unverified firmware updates, vulnerable web interfaces – the list goes on.
Compromised IoT devices such as routers and NAS servers can provide access to communications and data, serve as points of entry for further attacks, or act as DDoS attack drones, while home automation products and wearable can be used to steal personally identifiable information and other data useful to criminals.
- AI on Both Sides of the Barricade
Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) are bringing machine learning technologies into more and more products in all market segments, including cybersecurity. Deep learning algorithms are being used for face detection, natural language processing, and threat detection. However, AI is also being weaponized by cybercriminals to develop increasingly sophisticated malware and attack methods, requiring organizations to deploy advanced heuristic solutions rather than relying on known vulnerability and attack signatures.
- Mobile vectors will become more common
The number of mobile devices used by employees continues to rise, as does the amount of business data stored on these devices. While the direct business impact of mobile malware is low, we can expect an increase in the number of data breaches related to mobile device use and misuse. Every device used to access company systems is yet another endpoint to secure, so one way of reducing risk is to provide access via a secure web application infrastructure with real-time vulnerability management.
As more businesses and consumers rely heavily on their mobile phones, hackers are increasingly attacking devices to exploit this vulnerability. Fraudulent mobile transactions and sham mobile apps will continue to increase next year. Additionally, as the Internet of Things become integral to industries, attacks on multiple endpoints will become more common in 2020.
- Drones Open up New Pathway for Intelligence Gathering
To date, the security concern around drones has mostly been focused on the physical damage nefarious actors, including nation states, could perpetrate. In 2020, we could start seeing attackers focus more on what drones know and how that information can be exploited for intelligence gathering, corporate espionage and more.
While it’s true that drones have the potential to do physical damage, the longer-term opportunity for attackers is to use drones as another pathway to steal – and manipulate – sensitive information. Goldman Sachs recently predicted that businesses will spend more than $17B in the next five years on drone functionality. With an emphasis on innovation and development, these devices need to be treated the same as any other IoT device with software that gathers and stores sensitive information that needs to be protected.
Organizations need to consider who has the ability to control the drone’s activities, what information the drone is storing, how access to that information is being managed and monitored and, ultimately who owns responsibility for securing it. The creation of a security framework that mitigates emerging security risks and potential regulatory and compliance challenges can help address these questions.
- The Butterfly Effect of Ransomware
In the first nine months of 2019, reports indicate there were between 600-700 ransomware attacks on government agencies, healthcare providers and schools in the U.S. alone. Cities and public sector organizations around the world have faced a steady barrage of ransomware attacks with momentum continuing to build heading into 2020. With these attacks aimed at disruption and destabilizing systems, cities and towns, in particular, will need to elevate their approach to cyber resiliency.
The constant bombardment will have a butterfly effect that’s impact will reach far beyond what we’ve seen to date. These effects will include:
Attacker Innovation Shifts to the Cloud: The absence of spectacular ransomware attacks like Petya doesn’t mean attackers have stopped investing in malware. They’re just shifting their focus. In many ways attackers subscribe to the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” philosophy. The malware families that have been around for years still work and are effective for many reasons – mostly because many organizations still neglect to adhere to basic patching practices.
That said, attackers keep looking for new ways to monetize their assaults. If they’ve got malware that is steadily performing in Windows environments, what’s the next target? Attackers want access to a greater diversity of systems, including cloud environments and containers. Coming up, we’ll begin to see innovation in ransomware that focuses more on Linux to take broader advantage of digital transformation trends.
We expect to see a significant increase in the number of entities buying cyber insurance, making it one of the fastest growing markets related to cyber security. In fact, cyber insurance is projected to be a $7 billion market in the U.S. alone. However, this investment in “protection” is having a contrary effect – and will drive even greater waves of attacks.
Attackers will target organizations with cyber insurance because those organizations are more likely to pay. Insurance companies weighing the cost benefits of a payout will often choose to pay if the cost of the ransom is less than the cost of the downtime needed to rebuild a network. Ultimately, this gold rush will benefit attackers – tilting the power in their direction, fueling resources and spurring the need for policy changes and disruption across the insurance industry.
- Biometrics Create a False Sense of Security in the Enterprise
With biometric authentication becoming increasingly popular, we’ll begin to see a level of unfounded complacency when it comes to security. While it’s true that biometric authentication is more secure than traditional, key-based authentication methods, attackers typically aren’t after fingerprints, facial data or retinal scans. Today, they want access that lies behind secure authentication methods.
So, while biometric authentication is a very good way to authenticate a user to a device, organizations must be aware that every time that happens, that biometric data must be encrypted and the assets behind the authentication are kept secure.
Even more importantly, the network authentication token that’s generated must be protected. That token, if compromised by attackers, can allow them to blaze a trail across the network, potentially gaining administrative access and privileged credentials to accomplish their goals – all while masquerading as a legitimate, authenticated employee.
Cybercriminals are upping their game this 2020. You have to be watchful and come up with strategies to counter possible attacks. But first things first. Keep your devices safe at least with an antivirus software installed in them. Firewalls should be present too. The best antiviruses can at least alert you – if it can’t stop cybercrimes – that there’s someone attempting to take over your computer.
The internet is so useful but it can also be a scary place. Be informed about the possible new threats coming in 2020 and be sure to prepare even before they become real.