AppRiver: 2020 Cyberthreat Predictions


Thought Leadership

AppRiver: 2020 Cyberthreat Predictions

Troy Gill

AppRiver 2020 predictions

Zix | AppRiver analysts release their predictions for the 2020 cyberthreat landscape.

  • Evolving underground ecosystem for cybercrime has created an industry of commoditized products and services for malicious actors. Information such as stolen data and easy access to resources such as exploits, compromised machines, and malware as a service continue to proliferate. Threat actors have increasingly cooperated with each other with some even developing affiliate and revenue sharing models. We expect these partnerships to increase in frequency during 2020 and beyond.
  • More chained attacks with Ransomware to ensure maximum gain from compromised victims. Remote access trojans and backdoors that lead to banking trojans then follow-up with a ransomware attack ensures maximum profitability. We’ve already seen data leak threats accompany a Maze ransomware attack to help increase the probability victims will pay the ransom demand.
  • IoT micro ransoms or scams will trend up over time. Sales and low consumer prices are primary goals for most IoT companies, security is typically an after-thought. This creates a lax industry ripe for exploitation. The FBI has recently warned consumers about the dangers of smart TVs that could be used for nefarious purposes. Smart locks are also an area of concern since most of them are susceptible. 
  • Attackers will increasingly rely upon legitimate services to perpetrate many elements of their attacks. This method gives a substantial boost to the perceived validity in the eyes of the target. In 2019 attackers took this “living off the land” tactic to a new level and are poised to continue that momentum into 2020.
  • Identity to become more difficult to determine- Another method that has been trending upward recently is attackers exploiting other compromised identities to commit attacks. They have done this cleverly and we expect them to introduce some new variants of these attacks in 2020. We’ve already seen voice/speech synthesis phishing attacks. With the emergence of technologies like those used to create “Deep Fakes” we expect this to be an area of heightened activity for years to come.
  • More attacks to defeat MFA- Cybercriminals are already successfully defeating MFA through both Social Engineering attacks and other tech-based attacks. As adoption of MFA ramps up so will the attacker’s efforts to defeat the added security measures.
  • Sextortion on the rise- There is already an upward trend of sextortion taking place within online dating communities according to MarketWatch. In tandem with that we have seen an uptick in sextortion email activity as well. The ease at which attackers can gather Friends & Family contacts, employers, social organizations online, via social media and the web, about so many individuals has helped fuel these attacks. Look for this disturbing trend to continue in 2020.
  • Supply chain attacks will become more frequent- As attackers are relentless in their efforts to breach targets, they will increasingly turn to targeting a weaker link in an organization’s supply chain. This could encompass anything hardware or software related, even an HVAC vendor in the Target breach. This means businesses of any size will be targeted more frequently and at the very least could become collateral damage.