It is hard to believe that we are about to roll into 2021. It genuinely has been a year that nobody ever dreamt of, including from the Cybersecurity standpoint. So, given all that has happened, what is predicted for next year? Here are some of what we believe will happen:

  1. Botnets will continue to grow and proliferate:

Most of us have heard of the term “Bots” before, but what are they really? They can be technically defined as follows:

“An Internet bot is a software application that runs automated tasks over the internet. Tasks run by bots are typically simple and performed at a much higher rate compared to human Internet activity.”

(SOURCE: 1).

A perfect example of these are the Google bots that are used to index and rank websites on a real time basis. These little scripts are constantly running in order to give you the best search results any time you enter in a query. But Bots also have a malicious side to them. For example, they can literally take over your computer or wireless device, and from there make it into what is known as a “Zombie” device, where it can spread the malicious payloads that exist in the Bots to other devices. This can span different networks, located thousands of miles away. In this regard, one of the more famous Bots has been that of the Emotnet. It has been used heavily in 2020, and it primarily started out as a Trojan Horse aimed at the financial sector. But it has grown quite a bit, and now it is used to launch several types of attacks, from Phishing Emails to information/data theft and even Ransomware. It is expected that Botnets will grow in 2021, but their attacks will be much more sinister in nature.

  1. There will be more nation state Threat Actors:

There is nothing new about this, really. We have seen nations like Russia, China, and even Iran launch Cyberattacks across an entire range of different countries, targeting many different kinds of victims. While it is expected that this will grow even more into 2021, the fear is that the attacks will be become much more dangerous in nature. Some of the most favored targets will likely be those organizations in the healthcare industry, and even critical infrastructure targets, such as the water supply, oil/natural gas lines, the national electrical grid, transportation, and even the food distribution centers. But what is most worrisome to Cybersecurity experts is that not just one attack will be launched, but simultaneous ones, bringing the entire country to a complete standstill. Also, if this were to happen, the time to recover from it will be very long and costly.

  1. Integrated Security will become the norm:

Most businesses have been concerned with only beefing up their lines of defenses from the standpoint of the perimeter, which divides the internal and external environments.  But once this has been penetrated through, the Cyberattacker now has free reign to all of the digital assets of the company.  Because of this, many organizations are now implementing a multi-tiered approach, adopting the Zero Trust Framework, and it is expected that this trend will uptick in 2021.  With this methodology, the IT and Network Infrastructure of an organization is subdivided, and from there, each piece has its own layer of security, which includes at least three or more authentication mechanisms.  The idea here is that if the Cyberattacker does break through the first line of defense, the statistical probability of them reaching the most critical  assets greatly diminishes with each sublayer.  All of the alerts and warnings which are triggered  are then transmitted over to a Security Incident and Event Management (SIEM) application.  This triages all of them into one central view so that the IT Security team can then respond to them  quickly and efficiently.  It is important to note that these tools are readily available in Microsoft Azure, and are included as part of overall licensing fee.

  1. Cybersecurity will become an overall process:

Before the magnitude of the Remote Workforce took shape, many businesses in Corporate America often relied upon the doctrine of “Safety In Numbers”.  The thinking here is that if you deployed the latest security tools and technologies in the greatest number possible, your business would be safe from the various threat variants.  However, CISOs are now realizing that this kind of approach is the wrong one to take.  Simply deploying them in a haphazard fashion is not only an expensive proposition, but it also increases the attack surface.  As a result, CISOs are now conducting exhaustive risk assessments, in an attempt to deploy their existing tools into the most strategic places.  In other words, it would be far more effective to implement perhaps just three firewalls as opposed to ten.  With this new way of thinking, CISOs are also coming to grips that having great levels of Cybersecurity is not just about deploying products, it encompasses an entire process which includes an equal combination of both people and technology.  You need to rely upon both in order to mitigate the odds of being impacted by a security breach.

  1. There will be more time taken to study victims:

Gone are the days where the Cyberattacker would launch just a one-time wave of attacks, in what is termed as “Smash and Grab Campaigns”. Now, they are taking their own sweet time to study and profile their targets, especially by creating and building up profiles from Social Media sites. From, here the goal is to find the weakest point possible and penetrate it and stay for long periods of time inside the victim’s environment. Another key trend that will spike up in 2021 is what known as “Lateral Movements”. This is where once the Cyberattacker has found their way in they will move in a linear fashion towards other points of entry within the same victim.

Conclusions

These are just some of the threat variants that 2021 could see. There are other ones out there that will become prevalent, such as more Ransomware attacks to hospitals and other types of healthcare organizations, and much more sophisticated Phishing attacks related to COVID-19, especially as the vaccine becomes available to the public.

Sources