The risk and severity of cyber-attacks have clearly grown over the past few years. In fact, since the year 2018, mankind has witnessed the most horrific cases of cybercrimes related to massive data breaches, flaws in microchips, cryptojacking, and many others.
It goes without saying that the advancement of technology and the wide use of digital media is making attackers smarter by the day. Further, these cybercriminals take advantage of individuals and firms who pay less heed to cybersecurity. They target everything from a newly-launched blog to an established online store to gain access to sensitive information.
Every other day we read news related to cybersecurity threats like ransomware, phishing, or IoT-based attacks. However, 2020 comes with a whole new level of cybersecurity threats that businesses need to be aware of. In fact, a report by Threat Horizon reveals that in the coming years, organizations will face cyber threats under three key themes –
- Disruption: Over-dependence on fragile connectivity will increase the risk of premeditated internet outages that compromise business operations. Cybercriminals will use ransomware to hijack the Internet of Things.
- Distortion: Spread of misinformation by bots and automated sources will cause compromise of trust in the integrity of information.
- Deterioration: Rapid advances in smart technologies and conflicting demands posed by evolving national security will negatively impact an enterprise’s ability to control information.
Cybersecurity is all about staying ahead of threats rather than managing them later. Read on to know and prepare for the top cybersecurity threats that organizations will face in 2020.
1. Cloud Vulnerability
The Oracle and KPMG Cloud Threat Report 2019 reveals that cloud vulnerability is and will continue to be one of the biggest cybersecurity challenges faced by organizations. This is because enterprises are leveraging cloud applications and storing sensitive data related to their employees and business operations on the cloud.
The adoption of the cloud is creating new challenges for firms and exacerbating the old ones.
Forbes predicts that 83 percent of enterprise workload will be on the cloud by 2020. These organizations make tempting targets for malicious hackers. Data breach, misconfiguration, insecure interfaces and APIs, account hijacking, malicious insider threats, and DDoS attacks are among the top cloud security threats that will continue to haunt firms failing to invest in a robust cloud security strategy.
Finally, cloud companies like Google and Amazon storing other companies’ data are heavily investing in improving their cloud security. However, that doesn’t make them immune to deep cyber intrusions like the Operation Cloud Hopper.
2. AI-Enhanced Cyberthreats
AI and machine learning have disrupted every industry. Owing to its ability to create a significant impact on marketing services, manufacturing, security, supply chain management, and other fields, AI is finding its way into the business mainstream.
However, AI is proving to be a boon for cybercriminals too. Think about it – the AI capabilities used to identify and stop cyberattacks can also be used by hackers to launch sophisticated cyberattacks in the form of complex and adaptive malicious software.
In fact, AI fuzzing (AIF) and machine learning (ML) poisoning are all set to be the next big cybersecurity threats.
3. AI Fuzzing
AI fuzzing integrates AI with traditional fuzzing techniques to create a tool that detects system vulnerabilities. This can be a boon or a bane. Though AI fuzzing can help enterprises detect and fix the exploitable vulnerabilities in their system, it can also be used by cybercriminals to start, automate, and accelerate zero-day attacks.
4. Machine Learning Poisoning
If a hacker targets a machine learning model and injects instructions into it, the system becomes vulnerable to attacks. Machine learning models typically use data that is crowd-sourced or taken from social media. They also exploit user-generated information such as satisfaction ratings, purchasing histories, or web traffic. Cybercriminals engaging in MI poisoning could potentially use malicious samples or introduce backdoors or Trojans to poison training sets and compromise the system.
5. Smart Contract Hacking
Though smart contracts are in their early stages of development, businesses are using them to execute some form of digital asset exchange or the other. In fact, it’s smart contracts that make Ethereum famous.
Smart contracts are software programs that carry self-executing code. This code enables developers to create the rules and processes that build a blockchain-based application. Consequently, these contracts are a prime target of online criminals looking to compromise such applications. Moreover, since it’s a brand new field, technologists are just about getting to know how to design them and security researchers are still finding bugs in some of them. These vulnerabilities make it easy for criminals to hack the contracts.
As this technology continues to mature, smart contract hacking will pose a significant threat to businesses in 2020 and beyond.
6. Social Engineering Attacks
Social engineering attacks like phishing have always been used by attackers to trick victims into surrendering sensitive information like login details and credit card information. Though most organizations are enhancing their email security to block phishing attacks, cybercriminals are coming up with sophisticated phishing kits that aid in data breaches and financial fraud.
Since phishing is an effective, high-reward, and minimal-investment strategy for cybercriminals to gain legitimate access to credentials, it will continue to be a big cybersecurity threat in 2020. In fact, the 2019 Data Breach Investigations Report by Verizon reveals that phishing remains the number one cause of data breaches globally.
SMiShing (SMS phishing) is another form of social engineering attack that will gain prominence in the near future. The immense popularity of apps like WhatsApp, Slack, Skype, WeChat, and Signal among others is encouraging attackers to switch to these messaging platforms to trick users into downloading malware on their phones. According to Experian’s 2020 Data Breach Industry Forecast, SMiShing attempts from hackers will target consumers through fraudulent messages disguised as fundraising initiatives.
First coined by Reddit users in 2017, ‘deepfake’ is a fake video or audio recording that cybercriminals use for illicit purposes. For instance, amateurs and criminals have created deepfakes by swapping people’s faces in videos or altering its audio track.
Check out this deepfake video of Obama that uses AI to deliver fake news.
Embed Video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cQ54GDm1eL0
This AI-based technology has made steady progress as algorithms are better able to process data today. As the technology matures, cybercriminals use it to foster disruption across various industry segments, mainly financial markets, media and entertainment, and politics. In fact, deepfake can pose a huge threat to the upcoming 2020 elections.
In the business world, these AI-generated fake videos or audios can be used to impersonate CEOs, steal millions from enterprises, spread wrong information about them, and interrupt business operations. In the coming years, deepfake will evolve into a sophisticated and convincing method of forgery, making it a huge cybersecurity threat that organizations need to be wary of.
Quick Tips to Brace Yourself Against Cyberthreats
- Prioritize cybersecurity by setting up a security strategy to assess and classify the data you handle and the type of security you need to protect them. Run a security audit on a regular basis.
- Focus on cybersecurity awareness. Educate your employees on the importance of data protection and security protocols.
- Create a unique and strong password combination and complement it with two-factor authentication to access the system.
- Invest in cybersecurity tools like antivirus software, firewall, and other privacy tools to automatically scan threats. Install and update your antivirus software.
- Have a strong backup policy. It will protect you from ransomware attacks.
- Apply end-to-end encryption to all your confidential files.
- Hack yourself! This will help you identify the vulnerabilities in the system.
In this age of digital transformation and globalization, cybercriminals are constantly looking for fresh exploits and coming up with advanced strategies to defraud and damage institutions and organizations. In light of this fact, businesses should be mindful of not just the ever-growing number of vulnerabilities but also of the cybersecurity threats that are in store.
The information shared in this post will enlighten you of the upcoming threats in 2020 so that you can proactive measures to reduce their risk.
About the Author:
Gaurav Belani is a senior SEO and content marketing analyst at The 20 Media, a content marketing agency that specializes in data-driven SEO. He has more than seven years of experience in digital marketing and loves to read and write about education technology, AI, machine learning, data science, and other emerging technologies. In his spare time, he enjoys watching movies and listening to music. Connect with him on Linkedin and Twitter @belanigaurav.
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