2020 was riddled with landmark events that will influence the future for years to come. Amid the pandemic, the employment landscape saw massive shifts as a result of the dramatic transition from in-office to remote workers.

In 2021, the cybersecurity environment continues to evolve at a rapid pace. Now more than ever, security professionals need to do their utmost to stay ahead of the game.

As we look to the future, we’ve compiled a list of cybersecurity predictions to keep an eye on in 2021 and beyond.

Cybersecurity Predictions for 2021

While we grappled with the reality of Covid-19, emerging threats took the world by storm. Alarming milestones became clear as cyber threats altered their tactics. There were nearly 5 trillion intrusion attempts in 2020 alone – a reflection of the growing danger posed by hackers.

To make matters worse, one disturbing truth became clear. The sophistication of cybersecurity threats is growing at a remarkable rate. An in-depth summary can be found in Appriver’s Global Security Report.

More Covid-19 Themed Attacks

It wasn’t long into the crisis that vaccine-themed attacks emerged. Phishing and malware played off of fears surrounding Covid-19. Posing as organizations like the CDC and WHO, attackers launched an onslaught of attacks against their victims.

An ongoing trend to expect this year and beyond will be state-sponsored campaigns surrounding vaccines. These disinformation campaigns will fuel distrust of institutions which could prolong vulnerability to the virus.

In addition, the phenomenon of spoofing tactics is one to watch. A common tactic in 2020 was for attackers to spoof the delivery company DHL. Unassuming victims received fake messages from the company, kick-starting infection chains.

E-crime groups will build on this by impersonating vaccine companies in 2021.

Supply Chain Attacks Will Become Commonplace

Supply chain attacks are spread through an organization’s network by targeting the weakest link. Once breached, the infection spreads to other networks. The most notorious example from 2020 was the infamous SolarWinds breach.

SolarWinds was estimated to have spread to over 18,000 organizations, including the U.S government’s own internal networks.

Rumored to have strong ties to Russian intelligence agencies, the SolarWinds case represents a watershed moment. For nine long months, it remained undetected. Hackers had access to court files, government documents, and nuclear secrets.

It serves as a warning of what is possible if we aren’t diligent about cyber security.

Living off the Land Attacks Will Gain More Popularity

Living off the Land (LotL) attacks are a trend in malware that gained prevalence in 2020. They blend in by hiding amid native tools, such as Google’s native word processor.

The scope of compromised software used by LotL threat actors is destined to grow in 2021. More common tools that run on autopilot will pose a risk to those who use them.

Deep Fake Technology May See Wider Use

Business Email compromise attacks use breached business accounts to launch phishing attacks.

The appearance of legitimacy is vital in a successful phishing or spoofing attack. Deep Fake technology may see increased use to exploit identities as it becomes more advanced.

Cybersecurity Professionals Will Have to Adapt to the Post-Pandemic Workspace

Remote work is still widespread and the work landscape has changed forever. The disparity between home-office and in-office opportunities presents a spectrum of new vulnerabilities.

Cybersecurity professionals will need to prepare for these emerging threats.

Phishing Attacks Will Grow More Targeted

2020 saw the reduction of a scattergun approach to phishing intrusions. Instead, there were far more deliberate, targeted attacks built with information stolen from prior attacks. This trend will continue in the same way that tech companies build user profiles for laser targeted ads.

Ransomware Will Surge in Popularity

Modern ransomware tactics are advanced, but extortion ransomware is a recent, popular trend that centers on encrypting a system so that it is unusable and only unlocked upon payment.

Meanwhile, the attack compromises sensitive files. If the victim doesn’t pay the ransom, the attacker can threaten to publicize private data.

In another landmark event, 2020 saw the first death as a direct result of a ransomware attack in Germany. After ransomware hit a clinic in Duesseldorf, staff had to reroute a critical patient. Sent to another hospital for treatment, the patient died as a result.

With more than 300 million ransomware attacks last year alone, the trend will only continue to rise. This is unsurprising given that it generates a lucrative revenue stream for attackers.

Cyberwarfare Between Nations Will Increase

Global superpowers are ramping up their cyber warfare efforts in a virtual cold war. Ukraine has already become a de facto testing ground for Russia’s cyber-warfare tactics.

State-sponsored breaches are the tip of the iceberg in the war that is brewing between China, the U.S, and Russia.

Cryptocurrency Attacks Will Increase With Widespread Adoption

The price of cryptocurrencies has skyrocketed in recent years. This has already driven the scale of cryptocurrency further than many experts anticipated. With higher values, the appeal of cryptocurrency attacks rises in equal measure.

The 5G Rollout Will See Greater Risks

Nationwide internet companies are rolling out the 5G network. With it, there is a growing reliance on decentralization and cloud networks. This results in more opportunities for attack. More points of entry and a heavier dependence on software make for more cyber risks than ever before.

Mobile Device Attacks Will Continue to Increase

Mobile appliances connect to more networks than any other device. They are a hotbed of sensitive communications and often lack traditional security solutions.

This makes them “softer” targets for exploitation. Attacks against such devices will thus increase as time goes on.

Cybersecurity is More Important Than Ever

The future is uncertain in the world of cybersecurity. Technology advances year over year at a rapid pace. State-sponsored interests and lucrative incentives mean that vulnerabilities are exploited faster than ever.

Cybersecurity predictions are no easy feat. As history has shown, weak links exist everywhere and the next vulnerability may be lurking in the shadows of an unexplored avenue.

Contact Ontech Systems at 262-522-8560 or reach us online to learn more about how to prevent cyber-attacks. Our technicians are skilled at identifying vulnerabilities they detect within your business.

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