The global online security industry is bracing for major disruptions this year, with all manner of cybersecurity predictions being made. While proper planning is a necessary precursor to effective solutions management, most of the cybersecurity challenges ahead are shrouded in mystery. Despite the uncertainty, the prognosticators have assessed current market trends based on geopolitical considerations and general market conditions. 2020 was by all accounts an ‘annus horribilis’, and there is little indication that major beneficial changes will take effect in 2021.
#1 Weaponized Artificial Intelligence
Machine Learning (ML) is reshaping the cyber world in a big way. Attacks are being waged on networks and systems across the board, with machine learning systems capable of launching successful attacks, by identifying weak points in systems and environments and exploiting them.
Since machine learning builds on data accumulation, the cyberattacks will invariably continue as they grow in sophistication and complexity. Machine learning systems are smart enough to understand that major attacks are easily identified, so they focus on launching smaller attacks that largely go unnoticed for some time. Detection must focus on the minutia of these sophisticated systems.
#2 Unprecedented Ransomware Attacks
During 2020, there was a sharp uptick in Ransomware attacks as cybercriminals leveraged the pandemic for maximum benefit. According to Coalition reports, a total of 41% of all cyber insurance claims filed were for ransomware attacks. Those figures simply represent H1 2020. Ransomware attacks are sophisticated security interceptions that lock a user out of their own files and accounts until a ransom is paid. This extortion has become a profitable industry and remains one of the greatest threats to organizations around the world.
According to FinTech news, in 2020, the average Ransomware payment increased to $111,605, up 33% from the 2019 figure. In countries where a large number of Internet-connected people operate, the incidence of Ransomware detections is higher.
In the US for example, Symantec reported a total of 18.2% of global Ransomware attacks. The same company indicated that 1/36 mobile devices, including smartphones, tablets, and phablets include high-risk apps. Fortunately, this is easily mitigated by performing a website safety check, courtesy of downloadable add-ons such as MyWOT which use the power of the crowd to identify safe and unsafe websites. These types of add-ons largely mitigate the number of Ransomware attacks that take place on mobile.
#3 Data Privacy Concerns
A major change took place in the Privacy Shield between the United States and the European Union in 2020. The EU courts overturned directives provided through the EU/US privacy shield. The new ruling watered down the prior agreement that allowed businesses in either locale to share information with one another. With new legislation being drafted at the state level in the United States, there are plenty of data privacy concerns emerging as conflicting policies embellish, erode, or nullify the existing data privacy regulations. This poses a major cybersecurity challenge among businesses.
#4 Cybersecurity Threats Related to Remote Work Environments
The hullabaloo of 2020 continues in 2021, with no signs of the novel coronavirus slowing down. Cybercriminals understand that remote workers comprise a growing chunk of the workforce today. Therefore, many of their efforts will be directed at the less secure home-based networks, computers, and IoT devices. This will invariably result in increased numbers of cloud breaches, and expand the divide between the skilled security consultants, and the rest of the IT community.
#5 5G Connectivity Security Challenges
A massive rollout of 5G connected devices begins in earnest in 2021, with increased bandwidth, hyper-speed, and a glut of 5G-ready IoT devices. This will result in major upgrades to the way in which devices hook up to the Internet, the type of mega content that becomes available, and myriad connections that result. With every new technological shift such as 5G, invariably come many challenges. Security challenges are likely to ensue with the rollout of this exciting new technology.