Written by: Jay H.
The coronavirus has impacted all aspects of our lives, including cyberspace. Businesses were forced to quickly transition their workforces to remote environments, creating opportunities for cybercriminals to strike. As the pandemic continues into 2021, expectations are that these attacks will increase. In a report released by cyber threat intelligence provider Check Point Research, there are three projected areas of coronavirus cyberthreats in 2021: COVID-19-related developments; malware, privacy, and cyber-conflicts; and emerging 5G and IoT platforms.
Securing the ‘next normal.’ In 2021, the pandemic will still be impacting all aspects of our lives. However, the way it affects us will continuously change, and we will have to respond to those changes. Since we are continually responding to different impacts, we are not dealing with a ‘new normal,’ but rather a series of ‘next normals.’ So, businesses must secure their networks and cloud deployments to protect their data. All network points must be secure – including employees’ mobile devices, IoT devices, and clouds – to stop attacks from spreading. Cybersecurity talent is in shortage, so businesses must implement automated prevention to accomplish this.
Exploiting new developments. As news of vaccine developments and restrictions happens, hackers will exploit these in their phishing scams. Also, pharma companies developing vaccines will be targeted by cybercriminals.
Targeting remote students. Many schools and universities have turned to remote learning, and cybercriminals have followed them. This sector experienced a 30 percent increase in weekly cyberattacks during August, and cyberattacks against remote learning will continue in 2021.
Malware, Privacy, And Cyber-War
Double-extortion ransomware attacks. Double-extortion ransomware attacks sharply increased this year. These attacks involve hackers extracting sensitive data, then encrypting their victim’s databases. Then, the hacker demands a ransom or else threatens to publish the victim’s data. These types of attacks have been so disruptive that the FBI has softened its stance on ransomware, saying that businesses may want to evaluate paying the ransom in some cases.
Weaponizing deepfakes. Sophisticated techniques are weaponizing video and audio deepfakes. These fakes are used to sway opinions, manipulate stock prices, and other troubling effects. For example, earlier this year, a deepfake video was released of the Belgian prime minister giving a speech linking COVID-19 to environmental damage. Alarmingly, many people thought this was real.
5G and IoT Platforms
5G data concerns. Devices connected by ever-growing 5G networks continuously collect data on their users, and this massive volume of data gives cybercriminals opportunities to attack. Examples provided by Check Point include medical devices collecting health data, car services monitoring users’ movements, and smart city applications collecting information about their residents. So without proper protections in place, this data is vulnerable to attacks from cybercriminals.
IoT device expansion. As 5G networks continue to grow, more connected IoT devices will expand also. So, as IoT devices lack proper security measures, weak links need to be secured.
In conclusion, there are many coronavirus cyberthreats businesses will face in 2021. Organizations must take measures to protect themselves from becoming the next victim of these growing attacks.
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