For all of its usefulness, the internet has a lot of hidden dangers. Like predators in the tall grass, malicious actors can lurk undetected for a long time before making their move. To make matters worse, this is an ever-evolving threat. As old loopholes are closed, new ones are created or found. The result is a landscape that is never the same from year to year. With that in mind, let’s give our list of the top cybersecurity threats to businesses in 2020.
1. Ransomware Attacks
Ransomware attacks are not new, but they have certainly become a lot more dangerous over the last few years. The list of high-profile ransomware incidents is quite long, and many of these incidents are quite recent. For instance, there was the infamous “WannaCry” ransomware attack in 2017. It infected about 230,000 computers worldwide.
As bad as the Wannacry attack was, it was small potatoes compared to what we’ve seen in the last year or two. Each victim of the Wannacry attack was made to pay $300-$600 worth of Bitcoins. However, the ransomware hackers of today are more likely to target government offices. For instance, seven Florida municipalities were held for ransom in 2018 alone. As you can see, the ransom payments were much larger.
2. Cloud Jacking
This is a relatively new phenomenon, mostly because the cloud is relatively new. Cloud computing offers certain advantages to businesses and individuals. That’s probably why all the economic figures show exponential growth in this sector. Most of these come down to better communication with fewer barriers, but that is a double-edged sword. Just as this increased level of convenient connectivity makes things run smoother for you, it also makes things run more smoothly for a cyber-attacker.
Some people talk about this as if it’s a problem for the future, but it’s not. Cloud jacking has already become a huge problem if these statistics are to be believed. It seems that about 60% of the top U.S.-based companies have been hacked while in the cloud. That’s a scary statistic indeed.
3. Phishing Emails
Although this threat is not new or complex, it remains the biggest entry-level threat to cybersecurity worldwide. When someone is attempting to penetrate a secured network, they have to probe for a weak point. In most cases, it seems that phishing (sometimes also called spearphishing) is the easiest and surest way to do that. Phishing works by using fake emails or messages that masquerade as real ones. By doing this, they trick the victim into clicking on a link that has been embedded with a link to a malware site.
Whenever you look into a major cybersecurity breach, you will probably find that it all started with a phishing attempt. All of the high-profile ransomware cases we cited in the previous section were breached in this way. Lately, hackers have been creating a lot of coronavirus-related scam emails to take advantage of the fear and uncertainty that many people have right now.
4. AI-Enhanced Hacking Tools
As AI becomes more widely available than ever, it also becomes more vulnerable to abuse. The prospect of AI-enhanced hacking is a scary one, and there is plenty of evidence to suggest that the threat will continue to grow. First, you should understand that hackers have been doing this kind of thing for a long time. It’s called a botnet, and it works through a primitive form of AI. These attacks are pretty common, but advances in AI have the potential to make them far worse.
A botnet is basically just a series of computers/devices that have been joined together for a specific purpose. These can be used for normal purposes, like routine internet maintenance, or they can be used for malicious purposes. For instance, they can add your computer to their botnet and use its resources for spam emails, DDOS attacks, or fraudulent website traffic used to create advertising revenue. Unfortunately, botnets are not the only way that hackers can use AI to their advantage.
5. IoT-Based Cyberattacks
The acronym “IoT” stands for “internet of things.” It refers to the growing trend of using internet-connected devices for all sorts of normal purposes. There are all sorts of “smart devices” like these on the market, and the number grows all the time. Unfortunately, not all of these companies take the time to secure these devices properly. Thus, a giant security gap is created, and we know what happens next.
If you want a real-world example, we’ve got a very interesting one for you. According to the cybersecurity company that discovered this hack, some people from Finland used an IoT device to steal a database of personal information from a large American casino. The database contained information on customers that were deemed “high rollers,” and included some financial details.
So, how did they hack such a well-guarded place? By using a thermometer in a fish tank. This thermometer was connected to the internet so that it could provide remote monitoring, and this was the weakness the hackers needed. About 10 GB of data was stolen, and the hackers don’t seem to have been caught. This is just one example, and there are plenty of others.
Impersonation is one of the main tools used by a cyberattacker. By masquerading as a legitimate user, they can bypass a lot of security protocols. However, the proliferation of “deepfake” methods have the potential to make this kind of thing far easier. A “deepfake” is normally an image or video that has been altered in a deceptive way. If they are made by someone with sufficient skill, these can be very hard to detect.
As we said at the start, the internet has a lot of threats. However, we believe that these six are going to be particularly important. All of them have been rising steadily from year to year, so it’s a smart bet to say that those trends will continue. If you have found this article to be helpful, please help us by filling out the contact form.