Kaspersky’s Cyber Security Threat Predictions

We’re pleased to be working alongside cyber security experts Kaspersky to enhance our new, improved cyber proposition.

Their team have been researching potential Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) looking at how the landscape of targeted attacks could change in 2021. We asked David Emm, Senior Security Researcher from Kaspersky’s Global Research & Analysis Team, to share his vision.

“An APT uses continuous, sophisticated hacking techniques to gain access to a system and remain inside for a prolonged period of time, with potentially destructive consequences. And with the turmoil experienced in 2020 we are likely to see many structural and strategic changes, not just in our daily lives, but in the realm of these types of targeted attacks too.

New trend predictions include:

  • Increased targeting of network appliances - With more of us remote working, organisational security has become a priority, and there will be greater interest in exploiting network appliances, such as VPN gateways. The use of social engineering, such as ‘vishing’, to gain credentials to access corporate VPNs may also appear.
  • Demanding money “with menaces” - Changes in ransomware gangs’ strategies are leading to the consolidation of the ransomware eco-system. More major ransomware players will start focusing their activities and reinvesting the money that they have extorted into funding new advanced toolsets.
  • More disruptive attacks - Our lives have become even more dependent on technology resulting in a much wider attack surface than ever before. This will lead to more attacks designed to effect critical infrastructure.
  • The emergence of 5G vulnerabilities - As adoption of this technology increases, and more devices become dependent on the connectivity it provides, attackers will have a greater incentive to look for vulnerabilities that they can exploit.
  • Attackers will continue to exploit the COVID-19 pandemic - While it did not prompt changes in tactics, techniques and procedures of the threat actors, the virus has become a persistent topic of interest. As the pandemic continues into 2021, cyber criminals will not stop exploiting this topic to gain a foothold in target systems.

Financial cyber threats are among the most dangerous as they directly impact the financial wellbeing of victims – be it individuals or organisations. Here is a summary of what we expect to see in the next year:

  • Cryptocurrencies - Special technical capabilities for monitoring, deanonymizing and seizing Bitcoin accounts will prompt a shift in the methods used by many cybercriminals to demand payment. Bitcoin theft will also become more attractive as many nations plummet into poverty as a result of the pandemic and the weakness of local currencies.
  • Extortion on the rise - Due to their successful operations and extensive media coverage this year, the criminals behind targeted ransomware systematically increased the amounts victims were expected to pay in exchange for not publishing stolen information. Now we anticipate an even higher growth in extortion attempts as a means to obtain money.
  • 0-day exploits used by ransomware gangs - On top of that, ransomware groups who managed to accumulate funds as a result of a number of successful attacks in 2020 will start using vulnerabilities that have not yet been found by developers (known as 0-day exploits) to scale and increase the effectiveness of their attacks.

This year was substantially different from previous years; and yet, many trends that we had anticipated came true regardless of this transformation of how we live. Forecasting upcoming threats is important, as it enables us to better prepare to defend ourselves against them, and we are confident our forecast will help many cybersecurity professionals work on their threat model.”

Keep an eye out for more joint activity with our cyber security partners in the new year.