Bad actors are taking note of successful tactics deployed in 2021, including those making headlines tied to ransomware and the shifting reliance on a remote workforce.
It’s expected that they will pivot those into next years’ attacks and grow in sophistication, according to McAfee Enterprise and FireEye 2022 Threat Predictions report, which examines the top cybersecurity threats enterprises will face next year.
Here’s a preview of how the threat landscape might look in 2022 and how these new or evolving threats could potentially impact enterprises.
Key predictions include:
Use of social media for targeted attacks. While this approach is not new, it is relatively uncommon. After all, it does demand a level of research to “hook” the target into interactions and establish fake profiles. It is more work than simply finding an open relay somewhere on the internet. That being said, the targeting of individuals has proven a very successful channel, and the prediction is the use of this vector could grow not only through espionage groups, but other threat actors looking to infiltrate organisations.
Nation states turn to hackers for hire. In 2022, there will be an increase in the blending of cybercrime and nation-state operations. In many cases, a startup is formed, and a web of front companies or existing “technology” companies are involved in operations that are directed and controlled by the countries’ intelligence ministries. The initial breach with tactics and tools could be similar to “regular” cybercrime operations, however, it is important to monitor what is happening next and act fast — companies should audit their visibility and learn from tactics and operations conducted by actors targeting their sector.
Rise of smaller affiliates. The Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) eco system has evolved with the use of affiliates, the middlemen and women that work with the developers for a share of the profits. However, for a long time, RaaS admins and developers were prioritised as the top targets, often neglecting the affiliates since they were perceived as less skilled. This, combined with the lack of disruptions in the RaaS ecosystem, will create an atmosphere where those lesser-skilled affiliates can thrive and grow into very competent cybercriminals, eventually with a mind of their own.
Game of ransomware thrones. In 2022, these self-reliant cybercrime groups will shift the balance of power within the RaaS eco-kingdom from those who control the ransomware to those who control the victim’s networks. Ransomware has generated billions of dollars in recent years and it’s only a matter of time before some individuals who believe they aren’t getting their fair share become unhappy.
Keep A Close Eye on API. Recent statistics suggest that more than 80 per cent of all internet traffic belongs to API-based services. 5G and IoT traffic between API services and apps will make them increasingly lucrative targets, causing unwanted exposure of information. The connected nature of APIs potentially also introduces additional risks to businesses as they become an entry vector for wider supply chain attacks. In most cases, attacks targeting APIs go undetected as they are generally considered as trusted paths and lack the same level of governance and security controls.
Hijackers Will Target Application Containers. Containers have become the de facto platform of modern cloud applications. In a recent IBM survey, 64 per cent of adopters expected to containerise over 50 per cent of existing and new business applications over the next two years. However, the accelerated use of containers increases the attack surface for an organisation. And while attacks against containers are not new, in 2022, there will be expanded exploitation on the orchestration layers, increasing use of malicious or backdoor images through insufficient vulnerability checks and increasing attacks targeting vulnerable applications.
Zero Cares About Zero-Days. 2021 is already being touted as one of the worst years on record with respect to the volume of zero-day vulnerabilities exploited in the wild. The scope of these exploitations, the diversity of targeted applications, and ultimately the consequences to organisations were all notable.
As these factors are expected to drive an increase in the speed at which organisations respond, renewed diligence around asset and patch management is crucial. From identifying public facing assets to quickly deploying patches despite potential business disruption, companies will have a renewed focus on reducing their “time to patch.”
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