Cyberattacks & Malware Trends for 2021

partially loaded bar for year 2021 on blue digital screen for malware trends

We are now in the 2nd quarter of 2021. The data from Q1 of 2020 vs 2021 can be used to have calculated predictions around malware trends.  COVID-19 hasn’t just brought along havocs the world has never seen before, not just for the physical realm that have killed more than 2.96 million lives (at the time of this blog) and incalculable socioeconomic collateral damages to the human race.  But COVID-19 has much further negative impacts in the Cyber realm. Some of which have not been completely revealed. 

AI Integration in Cyber Attacks & Security 

Both sides of the fences will incorporate AI into their operations. Smarter, more sophisticated and targeted malware/ransomware will be developed. They will be used to bypass the latest security protocols.  Meanwhile AI-enabled threat detection & response systems will also be able to predict some of the emerging new attacks. They will be able to notify admins & users in real time or much faster than ever before. 

Targeted Ransomware 

Whether or not it will be targeting a specific group or industries. Targeted Ransomware will still remain to be the #1 threats for Cybersecurity in 2021. 

WannaCry ransomware was created specifically with the healthcare institutions and providers in mind. 2021 will bring more specific attacks on industries like construction, energy, mining and transportation. 

Mobile Workforces are the new targets 

IoT,  5G Networks and the ongoing new waves of “working from home” phenomena worldwide will lead to unforeseeable numbers of corporate & home network breaches throughout the world.  it’s going to be easier to “hack” the endpoints (WFH). Compared to those physically working within the organisation’s physical defence parameters.  Drive-by Wireless attacks on unsecured wireless networks and IoT devices at homes are easy to compromise. That can ultimately provide threat actors the hashed password of home and corporate networks. And those can be brute-forced later offline. 

The Cold War of Cyber Security is here & will heat up in 2021 

We’ve seen that state sponsored threat actors have been hard at work since March 2020. With the SolarWind attack, resulting in more than 30,000 sites worldwide breached / compromised (the majority were in the United States). The Federal Government Agencies and several other big private sector business entities were targeted using SolarWind.  Such activities will continue to happen in 2021. Aging/older states IT infrastructures & systems may work as a catalyst. We expect some sort of retaliation also to be happening. 

Legacy systems endpoint attacks 

This may surprise a lot of people but it’s a fact that many corporations & government agencies in the world are still operating on legacy Operating Systems. For example, Microsoft Windows Servers 2000, 2003 & 2008 and even Microsoft Windows 7. All of which Microsoft is no longer supporting. Many companies in the world are still relying on these legacy or End-Of-Life (EOL) systems due to specialised applications, devices / equipment. Those are few, that cannot be migrated / ported away from these legacy Operating Systems. 

Multiple Cyber attacks, and specifically designed malware that will target Windows 7 and legacy Windows Servers Operating Systems will surface in 2021. These persistent threat actors will continue  finding flaws to exploit again and again.  

The Rise of Multi-Factors Authentication for every service 

Every platform / service that operates in 2021 will suffer massive breaches without MFA.  Recent 533 million Facebook users breach is an excellent example of how Cyber criminals can find incredible success using stolen credentials.  There are now billions of credentials being sold in the dark web and other underground forums with millions more added every single day. 

Malicious Smart Chargers for EV Cars will lead to massive hacks 

Smart Cars, just like any other connected smart devices, will be greatly exploited by bad actors this year onwards. The easiest scenario for this kind of cyber attack / Ransomware is, that once your smart car is breached and exploited, your expensive Tesla will not be able to charge anything unless you pay the ransom. Not to mention the other graver dangers by controlling the smart cars. It may cause various kinds of private and public dangers as the compromised car can be turned into a murder weapon! 

Only time will tell how massive the scale of these attacks is going to be. We can not say, what kind of damage modern malware / ransomware can cause including direct physical dangers and other collateral damages.

We hope you enjoyed our views on Cyber attacks and malware trends for 2021. You may like to bookmark our Weekly Blog around security events worldwide.

About Chairat Suvajanakorn

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