Cyber-threat intelligence and analytics company CYFIRMA releases predictions for 2020

Threat intelligence and analytics company CYFIRMA says new and emerging technology across 5G, IoT, drones, and autonomous systems will expose governments and businesses to new threats and risks.
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CYFIRMA, a predictive cyber-threat visibility and intelligence analytics company backed by Goldman Sachs and Zodius Capital, has announced its cyber-threat predictions for 2020.

The proprietary Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) technologies at the company analysed using global threat indicators, and revealed that trade wars would fuel cyber-attacks on rivals, with more nations adopting cyber-warfare capabilities and starved nations continuing to use cyber-attacks as the new engine to grow their economy.

The company also predicted that emerging technologies like 5G, Internet of Things (IoT), autonomous critical infrastructure, AI, Industry 4.0, cryptocurrency, cloud, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and drones would subject government and businesses to further cyber risks.

Headquartered in Singapore and Tokyo, CYFIRMA has offices in India as well. The research further indicated that hackers’ interests were growing towards traditional and non-traditional industries such as research institutions, chemical, shipping, logistics, product, and technology companies.

“2019 was a watershed year for cybersecurity. Hackers have gained momentum in finding new avenues to attack industries and nations as IT systems remained vulnerable with software programs and applications that are outdated, poorly configured, and laden with weaknesses. Government and businesses must adopt a much more proactive approach in preventing reputation damage, ensuring business continuity, and protecting national interests, and this can only be accomplished when real-time insights and actionable intelligence work hand in hand with other cybersecurity measures,” said Kumar Ritesh, Chairman and CEO, CYFIRMA.

Based on CYFIRMA’s research and data from several sources worldwide, here are the threat and risk predictions for 2020:

1. Trade wars will bring new impetus to cybercrime

Recent confrontations between the US-China and Japan-South Korea will create a geopolitical supremacy race and fuel cyber-warfare. Strategies such as new tax regime and injunctions prohibiting companies from competing nations will only increase involvement of state-sponsored cybercriminals to further their own industries and political agendas.

2. Conflicts among nations will fuel cybercrime

Geopolitical supremacy, war hysteria, and historical differences will spur state-sponsored hackers to accelerate their cyber-attack campaigns. Social hacktivists, political parties, and large corporations will be drawn to cybercrime as a means to achieving business and political objectives, fueling the expansion of paid hackers’ economy.

3. Hackers will recycle and reuse existing attack vectors for new cyberattacks

Entry of new nations such as Vietnam, Iran, Brazil, and Spain to cyberwarfare will create new complexities for cyber defenders. Based on CYFIRMA’s research, hacking groups from these nations are employing low-cost modus operandi by reusing old vulnerabilities and existing malwares to make quick gains in furthering their state-sponsored agenda.

4. Hacking as a business will come into focus

Nations starved of financial resources will continue to weaponise cyberattacks as their new business model to propel their economy. In addition to direct financial gains, the focus will also extend to providing hacking-as-a-service to other nations and corporates. Lazarus Group, suspected to be affiliated with the North Korean government, attacks for financial and political gains. Such hacking groups can be hired by other nations and organisations to launch large scale cyber-attacks.

5. There will be an expansion in cyber sleeper cells

There is a race amongst state-sponsored hackers to create a bigger footprint of implants by hacking into other nation’s systems, intended at creating launching pads for future cyber-attacks. Developed and developing nations are continuously hunting and expanding their cyber assets to be used as ammunition for next generation all-out cyberwarfare and global conflicts.

6. Cyber-criminals will engineer public opinion

Cyber-criminals are actively involved in changing the social and economic configuration of society by influencing public opinion, including tampering with state elections. CYFIRMA threat intelligence revealed escalating interests of hackers towards other national apparatus such as social stratification, government policies, rating-ranking agencies and other decision-making bodies.

7. Global sporting events will attract hackers' interests

International sporting events such as Tokyo 2020 Olympic games will notice a change in attack vectors with hackers increased interest in sporting companies, games sponsors, organising committee and critical infrastructure agencies from the host nation.

8. Malware attacks will be increasingly complex

Launching malware attacks for sensitive data exfiltration will continue to be an area of focus for hackers. Multi-homed malware attacks with ability to change its behaviour based on environment, systems, applications, and instructions will challenge organisations. New variant of ransomware could also reincarnate itself as data exfiltration malware. Self-generating and self-destroying worms will be heavily deployed by cyber criminals. These are some of the key challenges that will keep cyber-defenders on their toes.

9. Cyber-criminals set for a quantum leap

Quantum computing is receiving increased interest in the hacking community. The technology will accelerate the compromise of cybersecurity schemes such as public key infrastructure, complex cryptography, encryption, and integrity algorithms in a matter of seconds. The rise of state-sponsored actors could mean malevolent nations facilitating easy access to quantum computing resources to arm cyber-criminals.

10. Hackers will use emerging and elastic attack surface

Hackers will continue to advance their attack vectors using emerging technologies such as 5G, Internet of Things (IoT), Autonomous Critical Infrastructure, Artificial Intelligence, Industry 4.0, Cryptocurrency, Cloud, Virtual Reality (VR), Augmented Reality (AR) and Drones.

(Edited by Megha Reddy)


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