5 Emerging Threats You Should Prepare for in 2020
By Wes Britten
Throughout the last decade, we’ve seen digital threats emerge from many new avenues of attack.
Not all of these threats result in what me might call a ‘typical breach’ (where PII or financial information is stolen and then sold on the dark web). Any breach of secured data for any reason poses a huge problem to businesses in all sectors. And as new methods of attack pop up, it is more important than ever to do our job to mitigate these threats wherever they emerge.
Below are 5 types of digital threats you need to prepare for in the new year.
1. Insider Threats
Insider threats are one of the most dangerous threat vectors a business can face. This is partly because they come from trusted, inside sources. Employees often have privileged access to the most sensitive information a company holds. After all, in 2019 alone it was estimated that up to 64 percent of all cyber-related incidents occurred from insider threats.
There are several different types of insider threat, each with the far-reaching power to affect a business’s finances and reputation.
- Corporate Fraud. On average, it takes 16 months to discover an instance of fraud. This window of time can have huge financial implications, especially on smaller organizations. Although fraud can sometimes be difficult to spot without forensic financial analysis, keeping an eye out for employees that have personal issues like debt, divorce, or legal problems might provide an early warning that increased monitoring is required.
- Insider data theft. A malicious employee with access to sensitive data can cause significant harm to a business. Segregating responsibilities and giving employees the lowest access levels possible can mitigate insider theft.
- Negligence. Often caused by the lack of adequate training, carelessness during online activities can result in malware or ransomware infections. The best way to avoid this is to regularly evaluate cyber awareness and other training programs in order to keep staff trained to the highest standard.
2. Technology Upgrades
Technology upgrades are always a threat. We live in a time where they happen almost constantly. Keeping up with new tech, along with the new ways that your tech can be compromised, is a never-ending battle. One of the biggest technological upgrades will come in the form of 5G cellular networks. When 5G networks go up, they will increase the speed of data transfers, thereby requiring more security measures. Deploying it to new locations will reveal new security issues that will need to be watched.
3. Phishing and SMishing
Of course, phishing is not a new threat. Most people are aware of what it is, what it looks like, and how to avoid it. And yet still, phishing poses one of the most significant threats to businesses around the world. Cyber awareness training, even on a very basic level, can help to mitigate the risk posed by phishing.
SMishing is short for “SMS phishing” and utilizes a text message that encourages the recipient to download a malicious file within the message. With the increased use of third-party messaging apps like WhatsApp, LinkedIn direct messages, or Slack, these messages are not limited to mobile devices. Now, they can find their way into desktop computer environments as well, making networked devices more vulnerable.
4. Targeted Ransomware
Ransomware has been around for several years now, proving itself to be a particularly effective money-making crime. It can be difficult to know what to do when ransomware hits, which is one of the reasons why some businesses pay the required ransoms in order to restore access to their systems or data.
Understanding how to recognize a ransomware threat will help you respond appropriately to keep your data secure.
- Stay up to date. Staying on top of official software and security updates will help keep your devices and networks safe.
- Run regular Security Scans. Scanning regularly will allow you to identify malicious software quickly and remove it before it becomes a problem.
- Education and training. Most attacks, including ransomware, begin with employee or user negligence. Keeping everyone trained and aware is the best way to secure your data.
This one may sound far-fetched, but it is a legitimate security threat to businesses and is becoming harder to detect. Deepfakes are digital representations produced by sophisticated artificial intelligence. They can be fake images, video, or audio that seems real. In 2019, a US energy company was defrauded of $243,000 when a deepfake produced fraudulent audio of the company’s CEO. Obviously, there is no doubt that more attempts will be made to utilize this technology, using deepfakes of decision-makers to deceive employees into transferring funds or making other critical decisions. It may be time to start requiring 2-person or 2-factor authentications for more of your business processes.
There are obviously more than 5 emerging threats you need to prepare for, but by securing your data against these 5, you are getting a head start against new threats, should they emerge. Positively engaging in both staff awareness and security threat solutions will benefit your business in a huge way.