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Cymulate 2020 Predictions: Uncontrollable Malware and Phishing Epidemics, Municipalities + SMBs Beware

VMblog Predictions 2020 

Industry executives and experts share their predictions for 2020.  Read them in this 12th annual series exclusive.

By Eyal Aharoni, VP of Customer Success, Cymulate

Uncontrollable Malware and Phishing Epidemics, Municipalities + SMBs Beware

A hospital in France, libraries in New York state, the city of Baltimore, the state of Louisiana. Malware ran completely amok in 2019 disrupting a vast array of organization. Whereas most smaller entities a few years ago believed they wouldn't be targeted, malware has reached an epidemic level where no organization is safe. While phishing has long been known as the most common attack vector, attempts have increased by 400% over the past year. Many organizations still don't take the necessary steps to mitigate such attacks as and hackers reel on their success, they will continue undeterred in 2020.

Malware's Omnipresence

In 2018, ransomware cost businesses more than $8 billion during 2018 and the average cost to a business was $133,000. These figures will have most certainly risen over the last 12 months and are set to explode in 2020.

From trojans and worms to data wipers and cryptojacking, malware proliferation has reached an epidemic level that is practically impossible to eliminate. The ransomware gangs such as Ryuk, SamSam and Megacortex are growing stronger than ever and in June of this year, payouts by Florida's Riviera Beach and Lake City totalled over $1,000,000 for cybercriminals to unlock their data.

Increasing availability of Ransomware-as-a-Service that leverages old malware with new variants makes ransomware packages readily available to those who lack technical know-how.  These are now being used by disgruntled employees to get back at their employers, or by rival companies for targeting their competitors. Alongside encrypting victims' data, malware is also used to harvest sensitive data, gathering GPS data for spying and hijacking personal cameras to record victims. Victims' computers can become another target for a threat actor to mine for bitcoins, consuming the targeted machine's resources.  

An Unstoppable Phishing Frenzy

Phishing is at an all-time high and has been on the increasing every year for the past decade. According to Verizon, 94% of malware was delivered by phishing, underlining how effective the technique remains and how difficult it can be to spot and avoid, particularly on mobile devices. More sophisticated social engineering variations are also becoming more prevalent, such as spear phishing - fraudulent emails purporting to be from a reputable source; whaling - emails purporting to be an executive to deceive other company senior execs to carry out financial theft or access computer systems; smishing and vishing - voice phishing calls mobile messages with malicious content.

More Cyber Damages for Local and State Government Entities, Schools; Less for Healthcare

2019 was a bonanza for cybercriminals targeting municipalities, schools and universities worldwide, primarily with ransomware and spear phishing attacks. As these organizations have proven easy and lucrative targets, a rise in campaigns is expected in 2020. Though healthcare will always remain an attractive target for hackers due to its high potential gains, many organizations in this sector are now investing substantially in building their cyber arsenal and enhancing their resources to improve their security posture. While attacks will continue to occur, they won't be as successful. 


About the Author

Eyal Aharoni 

An information security and Cybersecurity specialist, Eyal has served as a consultant, auditor, project manager and an executive across a broad range of companies including Hewlett Packard, Avnet, Introsight and the Israeli government. His extensive knowledge spans the management of information security, cyber, cloud and physical security, risk analysis and business continuity. Having joined Cymulate in 2017 as COO, Eyal is now their VP Customer Success & Sales Operations.

Published Friday, December 13, 2019 7:22 AM by David Marshall
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