1. The ransomware ecosystem pivots to double extortion. In 2021, some ransomware attackers will evolve toward the use of a double extortion model, where the threat actors will encrypt the target’s data and not only demand a ransom for its return, but leverage additional payment incentives to add pressure on the victim to pay the ransom. Some threat actors will use a more targeted approach and threaten to publicly release and/or auction the data unless the victim pays up.
This coming year, these sophisticated cyber attacks will put enormous stress on the availability of services – in everything from rerouted healthcare services impacting patient care, to availability of online and mobile banking and finance platforms. Cybercriminals will continue to refine these approaches and experiment with different business models including affiliate schemes designed to recruit more people to deploy attacks for a share of the profit.
2. A complex geopolitical situation will have lasting cybersecurity implications. Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen significant damage done to relations between Western nations and China and Russia. To prepare for the worst-case scenario, this coming year the West will be making stronger decisions on where critical or widespread technology is imported from, even going as far as to ban certain consumer technologies.
In 2021, we’ll likely see these decisions spread even further from government and enterprise technology to everyday consumer technology. Public-facing applications and services are increasingly at risk, as adversaries are eager to use any exterior gaps and weaknesses as initial footholds.
3. Detection response and compliance issues influence adoption of work-from-anywhere environments. According to the 2020 CrowdStrike Global Security Attitude Survey, respondents on average estimated it would take at least 117 hours to detect a cybersecurity incursion, compared to 120 hours in 2019, which demonstrates a lack of any real progress made. The complexity due to the growing work-from-anywhere environments will continue through 2021, and so we could see this number significantly increase. In turn, this will put pressure on organisations trying to deal with an attack and puts them at risk of violating GDPR and other data breach notification laws. In 2021, organisations must heavily consider the risks of non-compliance versus the agility needed for rapid expansion to a work-from-anywhere model. The coming year will bring an uptick in compliance violations with regulations such as GDPR, as businesses struggle to keep up.
4. Nation-state adversaries remain active while leaving smaller footprint. Despite the proliferation of eCrime taking the limelight, 73% of 2020 Global Security Attitude Survey respondents believe nation-state-sponsored cyber attacks will pose the single biggest threat to organisations like theirs in 2021. Nation-state adversaries remain active while taking advantage of global issues spilling into cyberspace. This will result in more attacks against organisations and governments engaged in the race to find a COVID-19 cure through to some nation-states looking to benefit from the rise in financially motivated attacks.
In 2021, the smaller footprint will put organisations at risk of silent failure. While all eyes are on the rise in eCrime, organisations will need to remain vigilant in defending against nation-states to prevent potentially devastating attacks.
5. Accelerated technology adoption brings risk to business security. The accelerated rate of technology use will bring along inherent risk to the home and office networks. Devices, networks, data – and the management of all these is no longer a straightforward problem: In 2021, everything on both sides of the firewall will be the business’ responsibility.
This year, cyber attacks will put enormous stress on the availability of services – in everything from rerouted healthcare services impacting patient care, to availability of online and mobile banking and finance platforms.
Michael Sentonas is chief technology officer at CrowdStrike