The cybersecurity landscape in 2021 will be punctuated by new challenges and evolving threats. Additionally, there will be new cybersecurity tools and technologies that may as well help to improve defenses. Have a look at cybersecurity predictions for 2021.
The task of predicting the future to a significant degree of specificity is not easy. In most instances, IT professionals can only make vague predictions that may be construed to mean everything. The cybersecurity landscape can be looked at through recent trends in attack methodologies, emerging changes and new technologies, and threat actors’ proliferation. All these factors will help in predicting how things will unfold in the future.
The following are the cybersecurity predictions for 2021:
Evolution of Ransomware
We have seen the emergence and demise of different trends in the cybersecurity space. Ransomware has been a big problem in 2020 and will remain so going into 2021. Attackers will be looking to steal data and proceeding to encrypt it as an extortion tactic. Ransomware will become a big concern for the healthcare space as attacks seek to steal patient records and extort them by threatening to make their medical histories public. There are concerns that the persistent attacks on medical infrastructure and healthcare records will lead to tragic outcomes. The healthcare industry has to bolster its defenses to keep the malicious actors at bay. Cybercriminals are expected to become bolder in their nefarious schemes and will target a wide range of industries. We will see more targeted attacks against corporations and enterprises that were not previously considered high risk.
Automated Spear Phishing Attacks
The COVID-19 pandemic has been associated with an increase in automated spear-phishing attacks. The impact of the pandemic will carry forward into 2021 as economies slump and fears increase. We will see the deployment of automated tools by cybercriminals seeking to steal credentials and other private data from unsuspecting internet users. However, automation will also benefit companies in that it will make it easy to and cramp down on malicious activity.
We should see a significant rise in zero-day attacks against popular operating systems. Apps will not be spared as attackers seek to take advantage of their widespread use. Developers will need to up their game and become careful when putting out software and apps. One way to address the challenge is through bug bounties offered by the major vendors so that people help identify bugs and improve their code. Cybercriminals have used the same software version and deliver even higher payouts for people to remember and sell them exploits.
Targeting of Remote Workforce
More and more companies adopt VPN and remote desktop protocol (RDP) solutions to secure and support remote work. These solutions are used to connect remote connections used by employees working from home. A sharp increase in the remote workforce was seen in 2020 as a result of the pandemic. Projections are that the world will slowly move into the small work arrangement for good. More work will be organized and completed remotely in 2021. As a result, the attacks targeting VPNs and RPP solutions are going to grow exponentially in 2021. Cybercriminals will seek to exploit and compromise remote connection servers and VPNs so that they have direct access to corporate networks.
Cryptocurrency has become the mode of payment for cybercriminals due to the privacy that it offers. Government agencies have blatant disdain for cryptocurrency and have been working to regulate the space. In 2021, we might see increased control and, in some cases, bans in the use of cryptocurrency. The driving force is to try to have control over an increasingly expanding cybercriminal underground. However, it will require the cooperation of governments across the world. Yet another challenge with cryptocurrencies is that of crypto miners. Attacks are using payloads that seek to have control of computer resources. We can expect to see more cases in 2021.
As more and more industries embrace the internet of things, we expect to see a concurrent increase in attacks targeting IoT devices, including connected cars. Attackers will target large devices such as medical imaging systems, but they will also go after smaller IoT devices that are unmatchable and vulnerable. We will see malicious actors finding innovative ways of using compromised IoT devices. Priority will be to use the IoT devices to compromise the cloud-based controllers that the devices rely on. One area of worry is self-driving technology as more manufacturers adopt the systems, cybercriminals are finding ways to compromise the technology. Some of the attacks will be a proof-of-concept, which involves spoofing the self-driving systems into stopping for non-existent obstacles or following traffic signs into unintended locations. There is potential for severe attacks on the software and cloud infrastructure used for self-driving technology.
In conclusion, it is difficult to predict happening in the cybersecurity space in 2021. However, some of the trends that started in 2020 will carry on and even explode in the New Year. Other challenges that will appear from time to time are targeting legacy endpoints as vendors withdraw support for some of their product offerings. Businesses that fail to use multi-factor authentication may suffer an intrusion and weak areas that cybercriminals target low-hanging fruit. The adoption of MFA across the board will help minimize the occurrence of data theft and phishing attacks. Businesses must always stay one step ahead of malicious actors. It is not easy, but the emergence of new tools and technologies may help improve defenses.
Author: Alessandro Civati
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