As the digital age continues to expand and reach new heights, the importance of cybersecurity continues to grow along with it. Users connected to the modern enterprise continue to increase along with their programs and devices. Businesses both large and small, banks, and even governments turn to computerized systems for their day-to-day activities. With all these users come troves of data—most of which are considered confidential or sensitive. These are what bad actors are usually after.
The ever-changing cyber landscape and technologies also allude to shifting cybersecurity trends as hacks, data breaches, and malware become the norm. Here are some of the major trends that continue to change cybersecurity.
Modern devices usually come with tons of various automated software. Its original use was to create flawless connectivity for various applications—for cruise control, door locks, airbags, engine timing, and even advanced systems designed to assist drivers. These vehicles use WiFi and Bluetooth to connect and communicate. Despite its many advantages, these connections can also leave users vulnerable to hacking threats.
Automotive hackers aim to gain complete control of the vehicle for nefarious reasons. This type of cyber threat is expected to rise as more automated machines enter the market. Security professionals warn of possible attacks against autonomous or self-driving vehicles that use more complex software and mechanisms.
Artificial intelligence is one of the latest technological advancements that has continuously been introduced in all market industries. This technology, in combination with machine learning, has also brought new possibilities for cybersecurity.
Today, A.I. is applied in developing and bolstering face detection, natural language processing, and automated security programs. Security professionals continue to hone such models to repel a rough average of 250,000 new malicious programs daily. However, it is also used to create automated attacks and malware designed to bypass even the latest security protocols.
With these threats on the rise, security experts have integrated A.I. and ML in threat detection systems to predict cyber attacks and notify the administrators of any data breach instantly. Although, some professionals voice concerns that cybercriminals will steal these techniques for their personal gains.
People nowadays are mostly on their phones. Whether for personal entertainment or business, mobile phones continue to be an integral part of modern life. The same could be said for hackers.
Back in 2009, cybersecurity trends saw a 50% rise in the creation of mobile banking malware. The data showed that our mobile phones could serve as a potential target for bad actors. Security professionals expect that this year, we’ll see a rise in virus and malware attacks designed to specifically invade mobile devices. These attacks will put our information and files at risk—from our everyday data such as photos and messages to more sensitive material such as passwords and financial transactions.
Cybersecurity protocols have to keep up with companies and organizations that are rapidly migrating to cloud-based Infrastructure-as-a-Service networks. Although most cloud applications are equipped with their own security measures, the user’s end usually serves as the weakest link.
Hackers can invade cloud networks by fooling users into downloading malicious software, and many victims, usually older folks, continue to fall for such tactics. Users can also fall victim to false errors without knowing their cloud had already been breached.
Back in 2017, Microsoft reported a 300% rise in malicious attacks on its cloud users. Because of this, security personnel should always keep an eye on transactions and suspicious activities to avoid potential leaks despite the fact that these services provide enterprises reduced operating costs and immense speed in delivering new systems.
Data has always been and will continue to be the main concern for organizations everywhere. Safeguarding digital information should always be the initial goal for any individual or enterprise. Even a minor bug or flaw in digital networks can serve as a vulnerability that allows hackers to access private data.
The General Data Protection Regulation has implemented stricter measures to address this problem by offering data protection and privacy solutions for people in the European Union. Following their example, the U.S. enacted California Consumer Privacy Act that aims to protect consumer rights in California.
Sandboxing is the term used for an automated technology designed to detect malware in security applications such as antivirus programs. This technology aims to keep programs running separately to avoid being infected by malware. This provides the time needed by information security professionals to determine what type of malware invaded their systems.
However, hackers simultaneously develop new techniques that hide complex attacks within seemingly harmless commands over a prolonged period of time. With these tricks, traditional methods of detecting and identifying malware will not be as effective as they used to be. Experts suggest changing the approach—instead of detecting the malware itself, professionals should locate anomalous behaviors displayed by malware. One of the best solutions for this problem is by combining proactive technologies to deliver top-notch protection.
Internet of Things integrated into 5G networks has proven to be the next raging trend for 2021. With 5G being launched globally, it delivers a new era of connectivity that can potentially rise to new heights when applied with IoT devices. However, this level of interconnectivity also brings forth possible vulnerabilities brought by outside influence and cyberattacks.
The 5G network is still relatively new, with experts pushing for intense research to find loopholes and address these to make the system more secure. Professionals also expect that every step of improvement and expansion will be accompanied by a plethora of cyberattacks from bad actors wanting to take advantage of new vulnerabilities.
Some cybersecurity professionals predict that ransomware will continue to become the top threat to all organizations. Ransomware is a kind of malware designed to deny system users and administrators access to their files or a whole network. Hackers will then send ransom notes to the victims demanding to be paid, often in Bitcoin, in return for these accesses. In some cases, such a seemingly harmless attack could cause harm to people.
One such case in 2020 shocked the world when a cyberattack caused the death of a person for the first time. A hospital in Germany was denied access to its systems and was unable to treat its patients. A woman in need of emergency care was then taken to a neighboring hospital about 20 miles away, but she sadly did not survive.
You would think that organizations will start upping their cybersecurity to solve this issue. Unfortunately, industry trends look disconcerting.
In a survey, 50% of 582 cybersecurity experts claim that their enterprises are not ready to protect themselves or fight against a ransomware attack. 75% of these companies also fell victim to ransomware attacks despite running up-to-date protection for endpoints.
Cyberwarfare is yet another trend expected to take the digital world by storm. It doesn’t help that Western and Eastern countries are already at odds with each other in attempts to assert their superiority. Tensions continue to rise between the U.S. and Iran, while Chinese hackers are often found in worldwide news due to their alleged influence on important events such as the U.S. elections.
Experts also anticipate that cyberattacks will see a sudden uptick since over 70 elections are scheduled within the year. Some of these trends could potentially include data breaches on both high-profile industrial and political secrets.
Multifactor authentications are currently the “gold standard” in protecting sensitive data. With MFA, passwords are not the only line of defense against cyberattacks. Companies also turn to other solutions such as two-factor authentication via SMS or phone call. This method forces users to use more than one device to authenticate their identities before accessing their accounts.
However, Microsoft previously urged its users to stop using this kind of MFA because the messages being sent are not encrypted. The company claims that hackers could perform automated “man in the middle” attacks to steal the passcode in plain text. Instead of phone-based authentications, Microsoft recommended using security keys and application-based authenticators such as Google Authenticator and YubiKey.
The recommendation comes as users mostly use phone-based MFAs for online banking. This specific industry is one of the most at-risk. One report even found that 16,000 devices were compromised in a banking fraud operation that cost more than $10 million in damages.
Insider threats, more commonly known as human error, will always be one of the main reasons organizations face data breaches. Whether intentional or accidental, any error can allow bad actors to infiltrate and steal millions of data or take over networks.
A 2019 report by Verizon showed that 34% of data breaches involved insider threats—which could be a former employee, a consultant, business partner, or even a board member. Another report from Varonis showed that 17% of all confidential files were accessible to every single employee, making everyone a possible source for a data breach.
To better protect businesses, it is important to know and understand the types of insider threats.
Turncloacks are inside actors who actively steal company information. In most cases, these actors are contractors or employees that have legitimate credentials in the enterprise network. They abuse their credentials either for fun or for profit.
On the other hand, a pawn is just an average employee taken advantage of by hackers. Attacks through pawns could happen through a lost laptop, clicking on a malicious link, or mistakenly sending a sensitive file to the wrong person.
It is expected that cybersecurity investments will become every industry’s main priority in 2021 with costs reaching over $100 billion in protecting assets alone. Looking ahead, security is expected to become a standard cost of doing business. Cybersecurity professionals are among the highest-paid employees in the information technology industry, and it is likely to continue for the foreseeable future.
With the help of the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification, companies in the U.S. will have a framework on standardized and implementable security protocols. Enterprises should also focus more on protecting their infrastructure to defend and repel cyberattacks.