2020 has certainly been an interesting year from a cybersecurity perspective. There have been plenty of successes and plenty of failures, and 2021 is likely to be the same. Of course, trends change from year to year, as new threats emerge and old methods become obsolete. In some ways, it is like a never-ending arms race between cyber-criminals and those who wish to stop them. In the interest of being prepared, let’s look at some of the emerging trends in cybersecurity for 2021.
Ransomware Is The Most Dangerous Threat
Although things like Phishing and DDOSing have remained on the threat landscape, ransomware represents the latest and most dangerous hacking tool. The really insidious thing about ransomware is the fact that it exploits encryption, a tool that was originally designed to protect people from data theft. When implemented properly, good encryption can be near-impossible to break.
Ransomware works by encrypting all of your data and then demanding a ransom payment in exchange for the password. Even government systems have not proven to be immune. Although regular data backup can help, some ransomware attackers will go so far as to seek out and destroy those backups. Until more reliable countermeasures are invented, ransomware is likely to remain at the top of the list.
IoT Devices Will Have To Be Re-Thought
The so-called “internet of things” has not proven to be the world-changing technology that many imagined. Many smart devices do offer an unprecedented level of convenience, but the makers of these products really don’t seem to have given security a lot of attention. Most of these devices have little or no protection against illicit intrusion, and hackers are already exploiting that fact.
So far, most of the IoT-focused cyberattacks that have been documented have been relatively harmless acts of mischief. Right now, there isn’t any real way for a hacker to make any profit by taking control of your IoT device. Of course, there is no guarantee that this will continue to be the case. All it will take is one good scam angle that involves IoT devices, and this threat will explode. Many say it’s only a matter of time until that happens.
Targeting The Healthcare Sector
Although this is a relatively new trend, there have been a lot of cyberattacks targeting the health care industry. Hospitals and other health care institutions have suffered a wave of high-profile attacks in the last year, such as this one. Universal Health Services is a company that operates about 400 hospitals, most of which are in the United States. Just one month prior to this writing, unknown cybercriminals were able to take down their entire network.
Most seem to think that this is a ransomware attack, although it is still too soon to tell for sure. One thing that is for sure: These attacks can cause death for people in vulnerable positions. One can only speculate as to the reasons for this new trend, but it seems to coincide with the rise of the Covid-19 pandemic. Assuming that this was ransomware, hackers could potentially exert a lot more pressure on healthcare companies. They might be faced with the choice of either paying a huge ransom or being held responsible for many deaths.
AI-Enhanced Hacking Tools
Artificial intelligence has been around for quite some time, but it hasn’t yet become viable for most practical purposes. Until this technology has had more time to develop, it will simply not be reliable enough for many purposes. Still, this is beginning to change as we head into 2021, and both hackers and their opponents will take advantage of the situation.
Just as some companies are now developing AI-aided antivirus tools, hackers are learning how to integrate Artificial intelligence into their methods. For instance, WordPress had a serious problem with botnet attacks in 2018. Someone managed to take control of over 20,000 WordPress-hosted sites, using them to attack other sites.
If you know anything about cybersecurity, you probably know about phishing attacks. Basically, it’s a trick that hackers use in order to obtain passwords and other login credentials. They use elaborate deceptions (usually spoofed emails) to get you to click on a certain link. Once you do, you go to a spoofed login page that asks for your private info. Once it has been typed, a keylogger records that information and sends it to the hacker.
Geo-targeted phishing is not a new thing, but it has become more common in recent years. These are cases in which the attacker uses different methods to go after people in different locations. For instance, they might impersonate your local government, making you believe that you have to enter your social security number on a fake “government website.” They might also tailor their phishing emails to fit local events in your area. These attacks are more personalized and will thus appear more legitimate to the average user. Since phishing remains the most common attack vector, these methods are only going to get more sophisticated.
Cloud Security Issues
A lot of people and companies are switching to the cloud because it basically takes the internet to the next level. By providing even more connectivity between many different users, the cloud allows for an unprecedented amount of online collaboration. However, a lot of people seem to have disregarded the inherent security problems that come with the cloud. We aren’t going to sugar-coat it for you: The cloud is inherently non-secure, but it does have the potential to change. Unless it does, you are going to see a lot more hacking incidents and, consequently, a lot fewer people using the cloud.
It is not reasonable to think that the average person can detect and avoid all these threats…at least, not without a little help. That’s where competent people like PCH Technologies come into the picture. With a little planning and some expert advice, it should be possible to keep yourself safe in the coming year. If you need some help in that department, feel free to call us at (856) 754-7500.