Imagine this: The year is 2020. You sit down for dinner and notice your children’s eyes are glued to the device in front of them. Your partner calls out from the kitchen, “Alexa, what time is my hair appointment tomorrow?” Suddenly, your Bluetooth-enabled crockpot sends a notification to your phone, signaling that your meal is ready.
If you’ve got major déjà vu after reading the scenario above, you’re not alone. To say that we are simply living in a digital age is an understatement. We live and breathe technology and rely on it to navigate our everyday lives. The emergence of 5G is upon us, and advanced technologies like artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and blockchain are changing the world as we know it.
With new technology, we can access nearly anything, at any time, on any device. But here’s the catch: attackers can too, and the more devices we share our information with, the more pathways they have to weasel their way into our personal networks and obtain private information. What’s even worse? As we find ways to use new technology to limit what attackers can get away with, they’re using the same technology to improve their tactics. The future of digital devices yield increased danger and risk, and this emergence will take flight in 2020:
Mobile Malware & Targeted Ransomware: Checkpoint’s “Cyber Attack Trends: 2019 Mid-Year Report” revealed a 50 percent increase in mobile banking malware attacks as compared to 2018. Banking malware has the ability to steal payment data, credentials and funds from the victims’ bank account. The popularity of cloud infrastructure and mobile device usage has also led threat actors to develop tools and techniques that target assets stored on these platforms.
2019 also saw many targeted ransomware exploits against healthcare and government organizations. Attackers are carrying out more sophisticated attacks that involve intelligence-gathering to ensure they can cause maximum disruption against the victim, scaling ransoms to extraordinary amounts. Based on these trends, researchers predict mobile malware and targeted ransomware to increase in 2020.
Phishing: Ransomware isn’t the only threat affecting mobile device users. Attackers have ramped up their tricks to include SMS text messaging as an attack vector. Additionally, messaging on social media platforms, web links and device updates accessed on mobile devices have been used to steal personal information. While email is still the top phishing attack vector, 2020 may bring an increase in mobile phishing attacks.
5G: 5G networks are predicted to enable high-speed connectivity and bandwidth, driving an increase in the number of connected devices and sensors. The growing volume of personal data made available by 5G will exacerbate the collection and storage of user data in telehealth, car services and smart city applications. This will expose the world to new risks and vulnerabilities that have yet to be discovered. This “security lag” will be exploited by hackers, making it more difficult to protect against data breaches in 2020.
IoT: Juniper Research estimated the total number of IoT connected devices to reach 38.5 billion in 2020. IoT devices and their connections to the cloud will increase the complexity of security requirements. Networks will also become more vulnerable to large scale, multi-vector Gen V cyberattacks. To combat the increasingly large number of risks and vulnerabilities, new controls will need to be established in 2020.
While we predict the upcoming year to be characterized by new, advanced security threats, it is unknown what exactly we will face. Current security solutions utilize detection engines built on human made logic, but this will not hold up in the face of new technologies and threats. AI technology may emerge as a top defense, as it can accelerate the identification of new threats and responses to these threats. As previously discussed, hackers will continue to use tools such as AI to develop elusive malware and access networks. The danger and risk associated with increased devices, device connectivity, 5G and advanced technologies will spare no one and affect everyone. Organizations of all industries and sizes must enter the new year with all guns blazing, ready to adapt to the changing security environment.