Whether channelled to an individual or business, cybersecurity threats are real and devastating. Governments and multinational organizations are gaining interest in cyber ranges which are becoming mainstream in recent years.
What is a cyber range?
It is a virtual internet environment used to hone cybersecurity defence skills. It aims at the training, development, and stability of cybersecurity personnel. Employers should consider getting a trained cybersecurity team to surpass their expectations. Cyber ranges trainees can then apply the abilities they have acquired from practising in the control environment.
You must note that cyber ranges have advanced in developing tactics and training. This applies to many sectors, including educational space. A cyber range is for any organization that wants to improve its security measures. It can help a company that moves with its workforce, to seal possible loopholes for an attack.
It also helps highlight the talent gap in the cybersecurity profession and address it. Cyber ranges redefine the knowledge, skills, and abilities applicable in various job positions. Cyber ranges will impart valuable skills to your employees, that prepares them to spot and respond to modern cybersecurity challenges. It also may ensure that minimal damage is caused in the event of a breach.
Here are the summarized benefits of cyber ranges:
- Identify patterns of compromise and security threats.
- Identify and respond to threats.
- Critical infrastructure simulation for practical training, including clients and computer servers.
- Simulation of real-time offensive operations against enemy attacks.
- Simulation of real-time defensive operations against enemy attacks.
Types of Cybersecurity Threats In 2020
There are various potential targets of cybersecurity attacks, regardless of social status. That includes every individual, business, or institution (whether government or non-government). Every individual is special and has unique assets that may attract the attackers. Moreover, you don’t know when bad luck might come knocking on your door.
So, what are the common motives of cyber-attack in 2020? Well, they include but aren‘t limited to the following:
- Customer database and personal information.
- Banking details and sensitive payment information.
- IT infrastructure and services such as channelling payments.
- Intellectual property.
- Business financial details.
- Staff login credentials and email addresses.
- Making a political point.
- Settlement of scores.
Most cybersecurity experts argue that threats and attacks fall into three categories. This includes financial gain or disruption espionage. The following categories are already prevalent in 2020, and you should watch out for them:
Ransomware works by encrypting data, which blocks users from accessing it. This is until you pay a ransom in exchange for a decryption key. Ransomware attacks can be on both individuals and organizations. The ransom depends on the value of the data in question.
Malware is a unique software that performs a coordinated attack. It happens to targeted devices or networks and can lead to operations being taken over or even a whole system crash.
Phishing is another widespread cyberattack that happens every 7 seconds across the globe. Attackers use dubious links which they embed in emails or social media messages. They trick internet users into downloading malware or disclosing their personal information. In fact, most password cracking relies on spyware installed through phishing.
⚫ Spear phishing
Spear phishing is a sophisticated phishing attack. It almost resembles identity theft. The only difference is that attackers drop down the identity after their mission. In spear phishing, an attacker impersonates someone that you know and trust. Through email or other messaging services, the attacker directs the user to unknowingly install Malware thus granting the attacker access to the user‘s device and system.
⚫ Distributed Denial of Service Attack (DDoS)
Denial of Service is common. Attackers exploit many devices at a go to bring down a big organization, website, or network. The attacker takes control of such devices and uses an “overload demand” to activate their attack.
Trojan malware is associated with the Trojan Horse in ancient Greek history. It will target a device as a single component. It then manifests in its many attack codes once installed in the machine. Trojans are prevalent in the form of software, something that you will not suspect to be harmful.
⚫ Mobile apps Malware
Mobile malware attacks are prevalent, and as of 2020 are on the rise. Research shows that consumers and social media users are the most targeted. This is because they prefer to browse from their mobile phones. This kind of attack comes through mobile applications download. It is also common in website visits and phishing emails or social media text messages. A mobile app Malware attack can disclose your personal information and IP address. Also, browsing history and financial accounts data, leading to a possible breach.
⚫ Attacks on IoT Devices
IoT devices are more vulnerable than ever, thanks to the advancement in technology. Attackers can now embed malware on one device or take control of several others. It’s possible by exploiting notable vulnerabilities like geographic distributions and outdated operating systems. Since you may not have control over other IoT devices, you can always take safety measures. This includes protecting your network and hardware, e.g., phones and tablets.
⚫ Credential reuse
Do you use the same password across several websites? In as much as it may seem like it makes life a little bit easier, it makes you easy prey for hackers. Attackers get access to various usernames and passwords cracked in the dark web. They usually try this information on other multiple sites hoping that you use the same credentials everywhere. If your news website is hacked and information acquired, it is possible that someone will try to access your banking or gaming site with the same credentials.
⚫ “Man in the Middle”(MitM) attack
MitM attacks are not so prevalent in individuals and organizations. But, that may soon change in 2020 after an attack on the US utility system. It was in a similar fashion. As the name suggests, an attacker is a man in the middle. He establishes a vulnerable position to intercept and change the message. This makes a breach of transmission between two parties.
Who are the cyber attackers?
This question is broad and relative since it varies from one imminent attack to another. But, there are two broad categories of cyber attackers in 2020. This includes insiders and outsiders. Insiders are people who have remote access to your organization’s assets and you as a person. Insiders include but aren’t limited to the following:
- Careless employees who give information to strangers.
- Trusted employees who lose or misplace their organization-issued gadgets.
- Ex-employees who may want to harm the organization.
- Current malicious employees.
Outsiders who may start cyber-attacks include but aren‘t limited to the following:
- Organized gangs and criminals.
- Amateur criminals.
- Professional hackers.
Effects and consequences of successful cyber-attacks
Cyber-attacks are not a new thing, whether to individuals or multinational corporations. In 2016, the world saw the most significant upturn of cybersecurity breaches. This happened to the most reputable online ventures like Yahoo, LinkedIn, and AdultFriendFinder. The losses and consequences that these organizations suffered were immense, some irreversible.
Here are the top consequences that any individual or organization will likely face. This is in the event of a cyber-attack channelled to them in 2020:
- The economic costs/losses of a successful attack.
- Declined productivity.
- Reputational damage.
- Legal liability.
- Theft (Identity theft is the most prevalent).
- Long-term effects on business continuity
- The cost of investigating and tracking down attackers is huge. Not all companies/individuals can afford it.
Protect Yourself/Organization From Cyber Attacks
Mitigating the risks of cyber-attacks puts you in a better position to stay safe. It also helps to recover, even if you become a victim of a successful attack. Individuals and organizations can put in place measures to remain on the safer side. These include but aren’t limited to the following:
⚫ Back up your data
The recovery process won’t be any easier for you if you don’t back up your data. Most cyber-attacks aim to either steal or lock you out of your data until you pay a certain ransom. Backing up your data gives the attackers no leverage on you. It makes it possible to focus on tracking and preventing similar attacks. There are prevalent backup solutions that have proved reliable in the recent past. This includes daily, monthly, and annual backup servers such as the Cloud.
⚫ Devices and network protection
90% of cyber-attacks exploit and attack through vulnerable devices and networks. It is important to note that a successful attack may need a single entry point to infect other machines. That is why you must disconnect all linked devices if there is a breach of your security. Prevalent network and data protection mechanisms include regular updates of software. You can also resort to antivirus software acquisition and firewall configuration.
⚫ Data encryption
Besides safeguarding your network and devices, you must also encrypt all your data. This is especially when sending sensitive company information. That way, such data will not make any sense to anyone who tries to intercept and steal it. Data encryption is also encouraged to stored data. This includes Cloud or remote storage devices such as hard disks.
Besides network breaches, attackers also rely on password breach. Password breaches can also make your devices a courier for a large attack that is yet to happen. It is possible through technical engineering. Thus, consider adopting stronger passwords that constitute numerals and special characters. You can also include lower case, upper case, and special symbols. Avoid using common things such as date of birth or name initials. This is easy for attackers to crack through brute force.
Top trends to watch out for in 2020
In 2020, the world makes a bigger technological advancement than ever. The world is more connected. There is a high number of manufacturers of affordable internet-accessing devices. This is also because of reliable internet connectivity in most parts of the world.
Yet, this great digital transformation comes at a cost. More than ever, your data is being shared across many platforms at once. This includes the Cloud, the internet of things (IoT) devices, and various data centres. Remember, you have no control over these factors. Your vulnerability to cyber-attacks increases as you also expand your internet connectivity.
Below is our forecast of what may happen in the year 2020. These trends include but aren’t limited to the following:
1️⃣ Cyber cold war
Western and Eastern worlds are in constant show-offs of their cybersecurity capabilities. It is no longer a secret. This has seen them decentralize their intelligence. Online teasing will likely breed a cold war. This will have smaller countries suffer more like collateral damage. This is often lead by bigger players such as China and the US. Large nations try to expand their sphere of influence across regions.
Since the age of the internet, cyber “cold wars” have brewed the interest of professional hackers. It is a possible source of funding. They help different factions to make their social and political stands known. In the process, organizations and individuals suffer. They remain to nurse serious economic losses and reputational damages. Most jurisdictions need to intensify their preparedness and responses to cyber-attacks.
This is to avoid undergoing cyberattacks on utilities and critical infrastructures. such attacks have occurred in many countries recently, particularly during the pandemic, recent examples include the US, Europe and South Africa.
2️⃣ 5G development and adoption of IoT devices
The 5G network has undergone successful testing and will soon roll out on a large scale. It is accessible to most parts of the world. So, there will be a dramatic increase in the access and use of connected IoT devices. This increases network and data vulnerability to breaches and theft. The IoT devices’ connection to the Cloud is still weak and unreliable.
This calls for organizations to adopt a more holistic approach to IoT security. Individuals, too, should follow suit. This move can guarantee the security of these networks. It should include incorporating both traditional and modern cybersecurity measures.
Remember, the possible damage caused by a potential attack on IoT devices is still great. Thus, organizations move fast to mobilize countermeasures.
3️⃣ The skills gap has widened
Most companies and institutions across the globe agreed that there is a gap for bridging. It covers the skills shortage, which presents an international crisis. Remember, cyber attackers, are well-connected and organized in the dark world. Notable research placed this shortage at approximately 3 million personnel across the globe.
The USA alone experiences about a third of that. A recent study shows that millennials have little or no interest at all in cybersecurity space. Only a handful is willing to pursue such careers at some point in their lives.
Governments, organizations, and educational institutions have something worth smiling about; cyber ranges. Cyber range training will definitely help bridge this gap completely in the years to come.
4️⃣ Growing Data Privacy Concerns and Regulation
Consumers and general internet users are becoming concerned about privacy. This includes how their companies access and use data. The are various organizations and websites that collect data. Today, you’ll find every website asking for consent to collect data from consumers.
But, they don’t express the exact needs and who owns it. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation act (known as GDPS) is timely. California’s act, California Consumer Privacy Act (known as CCPA), also addresses this. Essential rules are taking shape in 2020 as per the above regulations. They include but aren’t the following:
Consumers have the right to know how organizations are going to collect and use their data.
Every organization must provide robust data encryption. This is an increased security layer on their websites.
Sharing of personal data is NO.
Organizations must make known any data breaches within a stipulated time frame. Subscribed users are a priority to this information.
5️⃣ The rise of Artificial Intelligence in cybersecurity
Cyber-attacks have evolved with time, which makes it even harder to keep a manual track on them. These attacks emanate from human-engineered aspects and prospects. It makes it right to approach them with a human character. So, most organizations are adopting the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) propagation.
This is to improve their mechanisms on detecting imminent cybersecurity threats. It also addresses a prompt response. AI technology advances how to spot and block attacks before they happen. , which reduces the cost of the investigation.
But, it is important to note that AI technology is also available in the dark world. Attackers are also leveraging its use to probe vulnerabilities on networks. AI can also be used to develop high-tech evasive malware. Having an experienced cybersecurity team that conducts regular scans of your systems is paramount. This includes hardware and software.
6️⃣ Cyber ranges
As noted earlier, there is a big gap in cybersecurity personnel to keep the entire world safe from the bad guys. So, there is an increase in cyber ranges needs. This includes in governments and basic institutions. A good example includes business organizations and educational facilities. Cyber ranges ease high-fidelity simulations to train and prepare cybersecurity personnel. This includes critical capabilities and responses to both unforeseen or imminent cyber-attacks.
Cyber ranges replicate across the mainstream, for companies’ leverage. This is to address failures and errors that in most attack responses.
7️⃣ Cloud security concerns
The Cloud has gained significant popularity across the mainstream. This has prompted every single organization to move their data in cloud storage. Most governments are also shifting their storage to the Cloud. Many reasons may inspire an organization to adopt cloud usage. This includes lifetime backup, increased security layers, convenience, and affordability. Yet, attackers will continue to make various attempts on Cloud in 2020.
Scientific research proves that cloud storage and solutions are vulnerable to user ends. Attackers will soon begin to exploit the aspect. Among the cloud services listed were those from reputable and established service providers. This includes Google and Microsoft.
8️⃣ Malicious Software Bypassing Sandboxes
Sandboxing is a technology aimed at identifying and suppressing malware attacks. It is prevalent in most modern antiviruses. You must note that not all software sandbox technologies are safe. Attackers keep on devising new techniques on how to bypass them.
9️⃣ Transport and infrastructure
Software and hardware are becoming more connected than ever in the modern era. Smart technology is the future of everything under the sun. This includes transport and real-estate infrastructure. Smart technology is yet to reach in most parts of the world. It is still vulnerable inasmuch as there are arsenal attackers in our midst.
Most of this infrastructure will connect to millions of IoT devices. Individuals use these devices to run their day-to-day activities. This includes wearable gadgets and home Wi-Fi systems. When analyzed without bias, it presents an imminent threat. Individuals and urban safety aren’t spared.
🔟 Cyber Risk Insurance
We expect that there is a need for cyber risk insurance. As you’ve noticed, the risks associated with cybersecurity are endless. Attackers continue to devise modern means and mechanisms to pounce on their prey. Companies and individuals who feel threatened by must mitigate the risk.
This includes the effects and costs of a successful attack. Cybersecurity insurance would definitely be one of the best ways to do so. That will help victim companies and individuals to recover from the same. Reputation takes ages and immeasurable commitment to building. You can‘t let it get washed down just like that!
These are the likely trends that both individuals and customers will face in 2020. We have also provided brief guidance on how to prevent the attacks from happening. Besides, organizations shouldn’t be comfortable yet. Even with the advent of cyber ranges, attacks will still occur.
The pace of technological advancement favours both sides. Remember, this empowers malicious attackers too. It is vital to ensure that you keep up with these trends. Use both advanced and general security measures if you want to stay safe. Companies and individuals who don‘t keep up are simply making it easier for the bad guys to carry out their malicious plans.