Photo: iStock
Photo: iStock

Opinion | Five emerging cybersecurity trends we need to watch out for next year

Today’s hyper-connected world creates more chances for cyberattacks

As the old saying goes: It’s always easy to know what the right course of action was after something has happened, but much harder to predict the future. However, by looking at security developments over the past couple of years, it’s possible to forecast what’s likely to happen in the cyber landscape over the next 12 months. Here are five security-related trends that we expect to see and you might be vulnerable to during 2020.

1. Targeted Ransomware: 2019 saw Ransomware exploits getting highly targeted against specific businesses, as well as local government and healthcare organizations. Attackers are spending time intelligence gathering on their victims, to ensure they can inflict maximum disruption, and ransoms are scaled up accordingly. Attacks have become so damaging that the FBI has softened its stance on paying ransoms: the agency now acknowledges that in some cases, businesses may need to consider paying to protect shareholders, employees and customers.

2. Phishing attacks go beyond email: While email remains the #1 attack vector, cybercriminals are also using a variety of other attack vectors to trick their intended victims into giving up personal information, login credentials, or even sending money. Increasingly, phishing involves SMS texting attacks against mobiles, or use of messaging on social media and gaming platforms.

3. Mobile malware attacks step up: The first half of 2019 saw a 50% increase in attacks by mobile banking malware compared to 2018. This malware can steal payment data, credentials and funds from victims’ bank accounts, and new versions are available for widespread distribution by anyone that’s willing to pay the malware’s developers. Phishing attacks will also become more sophisticated and effective, luring mobile users to click on malicious weblinks.

4. More IoT devices, more risks: As 5G networks roll out, the use of connected internet of things (IoT) devices will accelerate dramatically, massively increasing networks’ vulnerability to large scale, multi-vector Gen V cyberattacks. IoT devices and their connections to networks and clouds are still a weak link in security. it’s hard to get visibility of devices, and they have complex security requirements. We need a more holistic approach to IoT security, combining traditional and new controls to protect these ever-growing networks across all industry and business sectors.

5. AI will accelerate security responses: Most security solutions are based on detection engines built on human-made logic, but keeping this up-to-date against the latest threats and across new technologies and devices is impossible to do manually. AI dramatically accelerates identification of new threats and responses to them, helping to block attacks before they can spread widely. However, cybercriminals are also starting to take advantage of the same techniques to help them probe networks, find vulnerabilities and develop more evasive malware.

In conclusion, we don’t have the luxury of hindsight to show us exactly what security threats we will face in 2020.

Today’s hyper-connected world creates more opportunities for cyber criminals, and every connected environment is a potential target: On-premise networks, cloud, mobile, and IoT devices. But forewarned is forearmed. By using advanced threat intelligence to power unified security architectures, businesses of all sizes can automatically protect themselves against the most advanced attacks the new year can throw at them.

Venugopal N.is director of security engineering at Check Point Software Technologies India.

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