Hackers showed no sign of slowing down in 2020, and SWK’s cybercrime predictions for 2021 rest on the patterns displayed mostly consistently within the past year. The most interesting trend observed is that bad actors continued to rely on the same general category of techniques, eschewing new leaps for refining the old proven methods. Though the pandemic undoubtedly exacerbated many factors, the signs seen so far indicate that the new year will bring escalation of existing cyber attacks, yet featuring more sophistication.
Here are the top 10 cybercrime predictions for 2021 from SWK Technologies:
1. Cybercriminals Will Target Remote Worker Personal Devices
The growth of digital tools allowed for BYOD (bring your own device) policies to emerge among more prepared workplaces, but those that were unprepared when the pandemic hit cybersecurity gaps quickly appeared. Personal computers connected to your network bring cross-exposure to cyber threats and often do not have the same level of security controls that business machines must have. Organizations with employees working from home for the first time have had to make do, and even if COVID-19 cases begin to dissipate, hackers know that there will be enough victims to exploit in the time left.
2. Phishing Remains a Top Data Breach Vehicle
If phishing was the prince of cybercrime tactics in 2019, the events of 2020 made it the undisputed king as attacks escalated exponentially trying to take advantage of people’s fear and uncertainty. Email compromise and similar methods will likely still reign supreme for the near future, and groups with more resources will test more sophisticated techniques to breach networks.
3. Ransomware Gangs Continue to Steal Data
Ransomware gained a new level of notoriety this past year as some gangs went as far as attacking hospitals in the midst global pandemic. Though the most nefarious demonstration of their ruthlessness, it was far from the only sign they displayed of increasing their efforts to generate whatever funds they could. The most important factor for future predictions is the trend of data theft that saw a doubling down on convincing victims to pay, including publicly data shaming online.
4. Hackers Leverage Legacy Systems for Backdoors
Unpatched legacy software and hardware have played a key role in allowing some of the worst data breaches; however, the scramble caused by COVID-19 saw many outdated systems overlooked or introduced into ad hoc networks. Exploits for misconfigured devices and programs are only going to proliferate through the Dark Web, and remote desktop protocols can grant backdoor access without the right updates.
5. Financial Services Cyber Attacks Are Going to Grow
Besides healthcare, financial services saw one of the greatest surges in cyber attacks over the past few years, and banks and firms are a target precisely because of the role they fulfill. Not only do they preside over significant transfers of money, but also of personal data that can be exploited for direct gain or in a ransomware attack for an easier payout.
6. Digital Transformation of Traditional Processes Will Continue
Even with the all the scarier predictions pointing to technology, the fact is that the shifts brought on by the pandemic only highlighted the need for digital transformation as an accelerator. Manufacturers, distributors and even some service industries that had been hit hard by social distancing were able to keep business going by taking advantage of apps and other solutions.
7. Cybercrime Will Become More Expensive (and Lucrative)
Cybercrime has grown so much that it has built its own economy ranking behind only the world’s superpowers, and this is trend that will continue feeding into itself until the opportunities die out. This parallels the increase of cost a cyber attack will bring, not only from hackers stealing or demanding payment, but from recovery operations and privacy compliance fines.
8. Human Cyber Intelligence Provided by SOC and SIEM Takes Point
The static cyber defenses of the 1990’s and early 2000’s have proven easy to overcome by today’s cybercriminals, and businesses like yours require much more than traditional antivirus. Human cyber intelligence delivered by a SOC (security operations center) and real-time monitoring provided by SIEM (security information and event management) technology is becoming the key adaptive solution to cybercrime.
9. Cloud Security Will Take Precedent for Enterprises
The cloud has enabled business continuity and working from home at an unprecedented scale, and just as past investments allowed this new normal, future ones reflect the direction of enterprise strategy. Many businesses are focusing even more on their digital infrastructure deployments by investing in additional cloud security solutions to defend them.
10. User Cybersecurity Should Be the Focus for 2021
Most of the above factors point to a changing world that will bring greater speed and flexibility, but also a greater number of distributed endpoints, bigger potential attack surfaces and increased importance on user security. Cybersecurity training will be required to provide the most effective level of defense these digitized networks will need, reinforcing cyber hygiene for the standards of the new normal.
Learn the 10 Ways Hackers Get Past Firewalls to Fight Cybercrime
To fight against these cybercrime trends predicted for 2021 and beyond, you must start from the ground up and focus on the last line of cyber defense until you work your way up to the first. Read through our guide, The Top 10 Ways Hackers Get Around Your Firewall and Antivirus to Rob You Blind, and discover how you can best prevent a data breach.
Download the guide here and learn how to better protect your business from all types of cybercrime.