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‘Prepare for a new cyber Cold War in 2020’: Check Point

Check Point Software Technologies has published its cyber security predictions for 2020. They highlight the major cyber incidents and technical developments that Check Point’s researchers anticipate will impact our societies and businesses in the coming year and indicate the security strategies that will help both governments and private organizations to prevent these incidents causing widespread damage and disruption.

Check Point’s global cyber security predictions for 2020 are:

New cyber ‘Cold War’ escalates: there will be a new Cold War, and it will be conducted in the online world as Western and Eastern powers increasingly separate their technologies and intelligence. The ongoing trade war between the US and China and the decoupling of the two huge economies, is a clear indicator of this. Cyber attacks will increasingly be used as proxy conflicts between smaller countries, funded and enabled by large nations looking to consolidate and extend their spheres of influence, as seen in the recent cyber operations against Iran, following attacks on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities.

Cyber attacks on utilities and critical infrastructures will continue to grow: utilities continue to be a target of cyber attacks, as seen from attacks on US and South African utility companies this year. In many cases, critical power and water distribution infrastructure uses older technology that is vulnerable to remote exploitation because upgrading it risks service interruptions and downtime. Nations will need to look at radically strengthening cyber defences / defences for their infrastructure.

Fake news 2.0 at the US 2020 elections: the US election in 2016 saw the beginning of AI-based propagation of fake news. Political adversaries made huge progress creating special teams that created and spread false stories to undermine support for their opponents. US candidates can expect that overseas groups have already made and are implementing plans to influence the 2020 elections.

Check Point’s technical cyber security predictions for 2020 are:

Targeted ransomware attacks increase: 2019 saw ransomware being increasingly targeted against specific businesses, local government and healthcare organizations. Attackers are spending time intelligence-gathering on their victims to ensure they can inflict maximum disruption, and ransoms are scaled up accordingly.  Attacks have become so damaging that the FBI has softened its stance on paying ransoms: it now acknowledges that in some cases, businesses may need to evaluate options to protect their shareholders, employees and customers. This in turn will drive an increase in organizations taking out insurance policies against ransomware, which will also increase attackers’ ransom demands.

Phishing attacks go beyond email:
while email remains the #1 attack vector, cyber criminals are also using a variety of other attack vectors to trick their intended victims into giving up personal information, login credentials, or even sending money. Increasingly, phishing involves SMS texting attacks against mobiles, or use of messaging on social media and gaming platforms.

Mobile malware attacks step up:
the first half of 2019 saw a 50 percent increase in attacks by mobile banking malware compared to 2018. This malware can steal payment data, credentials and funds from victims’ bank accounts, and new versions are available for widespread distribution by anyone that’s willing to pay the malware’s developers. Phishing attacks will also become even more sophisticated and effective, luring mobile users to click on malicious weblinks.

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