Cybercriminals to leverage emerging technologies against companies in 2020: Sophos

Cybercriminals to leverage emerging technologies against companies in 2020: Sophos
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24 Dec, 2019

Cybersecurity threat landscape will change over the next few years, with criminals using emerging technology to target victims. 

According to SophosLabs 2020 Threat report, the year ahead will witness several advanced ransomware attacks.

To understand the trend ahead, Oxfordshire, United Kingdom-based network security provider Sophos released a report SophosLabs 2020, where it explained key trends to watch out for in the coming year.

1) Ransomware attacks to increase in 2020

The report predicts 2020 will witness one of the most advanced ransomware attacks as attackers will use automated tools to target victims.

“It is a lot easier to change a malware’s appearance than to change its purpose or behaviour, which is why modern ransomware relies on obfuscation to be successful. However, in 2020, ransomware will raise the stakes by changing or adding traits to confuse some anti-ransomware protection,” Mark Loman, director of engineering for next-generation tech at Sophos said.

“The low-hanging fruit of exposed services, unpatched systems and compromised credentials will provide an ample bounty to both skilled and unskilled attackers. It is vital to have robust security controls, monitoring and response in place covering all endpoints, networks and systems, and to install software updates whenever they are issued.”

2) Little missteps will lead to big breaches in the cloud 

Cloud computing has definitely given flexibilities to businesses to toggle on or off resources as needed. This made it easy for businesses to scale up computing power to suit the needs of their clients or customers. But when it comes to securing the cloud, the same flexibility can create problems.

“In 2020, small missteps in the cloud will end up exposing large businesses. The greatest vulnerability for cloud computing is simple misconfigurations. As cloud systems become more complex and more flexible, operator error continues to increase risk. Combined with a general lack of visibility, this makes cloud computing environments a ready-made target for cyber-attackers.” Andy Miller, senior director of global public cloud, Sophos said.

“Protecting data stored in the cloud requires a very different toolset, because the threat model is quite different from those of workstations or servers. It’s critical that organizations re-evaluate their cloud strategies with security top of mind,” he said in a statement shared by the company.

3) Cybercriminals will try to corrupt machine learning detection models

Organisations are investing in machine learning (ML) to improve efficiency and security. The report suggests that 2020 will see criminals trying to challenge machine learning security systems.

“As the cat-and-mouse game between attackers and defenders continues, we can expect both offensive and defensive machine learning tools of increasing sophistication and effectiveness to develop rapidly. Over the next year, we expect to see more incidents where cybercriminals attempt to trick machine-learning detection and classification models, and even leverage machine learning to generate highly convincing fake content for social engineering attacks.” Joe Levy, CTO, Sophos said.

“These new defences’ techniques will be crucial, as it’s likely that cybercriminals will begin executing “wetware” attacks by combining automated content generation and manual human effort to personalize attacks against targets, and evade the current generation of defences,” Levy added.

The report suggests leveraging prevention and protection to stop attacks before they happen, businesses should take a layered approach to security. By combining human threat hunters with the leading threat intelligence and technologies like deep learning, organisations can detect and contain even the most sophisticated attacks faster, minimizing their impacts and costs.  

4) 5G will introduce never before seen security threats

One of the most talked-about technology is 5G. However, the technology is expected to introduce significant security risks with new potential entry points that will expose organisations to new types of attack.

“While 5G holds tremendous promise, overhauling our essential networks will open a Pandora’s box due to the introduction of radio frequencies that to date have not been accessible, not to mention the minimized visibility that will result from them. This will require us to put an even greater focus on the security of our connections, devices and applications,” Dan Schiappa, chief product officer, Sophos said.

According to the report, the organisation will need a layered approach to security where products connect and share actionable intelligence. A synchronised security approach builds bridges allowing products to work together stronger than they would on their own.

5) MSPs will become security advisors

The cyber threat landscape is evolving day-by-day, end-users will need help and guidance to ensure they are being protected from today’s sophisticated attacks.

As the security market is crowded, managed Service Providers will have to double down on becoming educated security advisors. MSPs will have to stay up to date on the threat landscape and provide next-generation security solutions in order to arm their customers with industry best solutions for staying secure.

“It’s critical that MSPs are educated in order to provide the right resources for their customers – which in turn supports upselling and cross-selling– to really take advantage of this opportunity. Internally, MSPs also need to take steps to secure their own environments because MSPs are becoming rich targets for cybercriminals. Sophos recommends that MSPs leverage two-factor authentication and ensure they’re locking down their network with layered security to protect themselves from unwanted threats." Scott Barlow, vice president of global MSP, Sophos said.