The risk of a cyber attack is always a security threat for every individual, business, or organization. From malicious spam emails to identity theft or stolen passwords, just one successful cyber attack can have devastating consequences for any victim, and perhaps their customers, staff, or family. Cyber attacks examples with far-reaching implications like these have been making headlines for decades, and the new decade of 2020 is no exception. Interpol reported that the coronavirus pandemic has actually been a gateway for inventive criminals, and CNBC shared findings that large-scale cyber security breaches increased 273% in Q1 2020, compared to the same months of 2019.
The rising and recent cyber attacks of 2020 reveal new methods and criminal tactics have emerged alongside old risks. Not only is there more sensitive data online than ever before, the methods to attack vulnerable users are becoming more and more refined.
2020’s cybersecurity news and trends show why excellent cyber security professionals are continuing to grow in importance, and why these jobs are such great opportunities.
Want to start fighting against these cyber attacks? Schedule a meeting with admissions now to start launch your cyber career!
Types of Cyber Security Threats
As technology and connected smart devices continue to grow and get smarter, the list of types of cyberthreats also gets bigger and unfortunately, more effective. But that doesn’t make more familiar attacks on the list any less dangerous. Here are some of the high-level types of security threats:
- Malicious Domains: these are websites that are either constructed or hijacked to lead visitors to download viruses or otherwise compromise the security of their device.
- Malicious Downloads: these are downloads like PDFs, compressed folders, sound files, video files, or essentially any kind of download that contain viruses like malware or ransomware.
- Network Attacks: these are attacks by hackers on a network, server, or database, that deny service to users or interrupt service requests to create openings for viruses.
These are overly simplistic categories, and later in this post we’ll discuss some real-life examples of cyber-attacks more in-depth. But what stands out even among these generalizations is that many cyberattacks fit all of these categories. If a malicious domain catches a user unaware and they download a virus to their work computer, it’s possible for that to spread to the entire network.
In fact, it’s not just possible—it’s the kind of event that costs businesses billions of dollars every year. According to Verizon’s 2020 Data Breach Investigations Report, 30% of data breaches at businesses involved human error from within the organization. This means 70% of attacks are perpetrated by external actors. Some cybersecurity jobs involve detecting and preventing these attacks from outside, while other cybersecurity professionals might educate internal employees and protect against threats of human error.
Cyber security experts agree that one of the most important things to understand about a cyberattack is not its cause, but its source. Verizon reported that 55% of cybercrime is carried out by organized criminal syndicates. Especially for cybersecurity professionals working in the government or other industries like aerospace, defense contracting, and healthcare, learning the strategies and characteristics of these attackers is an important part of professional life.
What Are the Top 5 Cyber Threats?
The top cyber threats on the Internet today are chosen by attackers time and time again because they work. Though the unique circumstances of each attempted crime are different, these five methods remain some of the most common cyber attacks:
- Phishing: Phishing occurs when a cybercriminal uses a false identity to trick someone into providing sensitive data or downloading malicious software. One of the most common instances is email phishing, where a hacker sends out fake emails that look like they come from a trusted source such as a bank, software company, or even a friend or colleague.
- Phishing in the News: In February 2020 the Puerto Rican government lost $2.6 million after falling for a phishing scam email that informed them there had been a banking account change.
- Malware & Ransomware: Malware is any kind of software designed to harm a computer. One of the most increasingly common kinds of malware is ransomware. This is software that locks down the computer and its files, holding them hostage for ransom.
- Malware in the News: From February to March 2020, one of the world’s biggest employers. Denmark-based ISS World, spent a month without access to business-critical systems after a ransomware attack. The company will spend anywhere from $75M-113M recovering from the attack.
- Database Exposure: This cyber threat occurs when companies themselves don’t take adequate steps to protect the data they have in storage. A lack of tracking around where and how sensitive data is stored and protected is a contributor to many data breaches.
- Database Exposure in the News: In March 2020, Brazilian biometrics company Antheus Tecnologia inadvertently leaked 16 gigabytes of data, including 76,000 fingerprints, when a server was left unsecured.
- Credential Stuffing: This cyberattack occurs when hackers gain access to a list of usernames and passwords for a certain system or application. Large-scale automated login requests are launched so the criminals can gain unauthorized access to as many accounts as possible.
- Credential Stuffing in the News: Between January and August 2020, hackers used credential stuffing as the basis for funds transfer schemes that resulted in over $3.5M being stolen from financial institutions.
- Accidental Sharing: This cyberthreat isn’t a matter of criminal attack, but accidental and non-malicious actions by organizational employees or vendors. This includes sharing sensitive company data to personal devices like a laptop or phone.
- Accidental Sharing in the News: In March 2020, the data of millions of European eBay and Amazon shoppers was left exposed online and discoverable by search engines by a vendor conducting tax analysis.
While the news stories mentioned here span the globe, it is expected that nearly half of the world’s data breaches will occur in the US by 2023. The US and US businesses are already the target of more than one-third of the world’s cyberattacks. This is why cybersecurity professionals are already an essential part of the workforce, and will only grow in importance in the next few years.
What Are the Main Cyber Threats of 2020?
Tried-and-tested cyberthreats are clearly enough to contend with, but there’s also emerging cyber threats in 2020 that haven’t caught as much news attention. While these nefarious tactics have yet to claim the headlines and cost millions, it’s important to be aware of them and prepare to fight back.
- Deepfakes are synthetic media in which an existing image or video is replaced with someone else’s likeness. These fake videos and images might have serious implications for national and global security.
- Synthetic Identity is a combination of fabricated credentials that may be linked to a real Social Security Number, but create a wholly separate identity with another name and other personal information.
- Disinformation is a new form of cyberattack in which online channels like social media are used to spread false information that harms others in real life, a phenomenon which has cybersecurity professionals unanimously concerned.
- 5G Cyberthreats exist because these all-software networks are more vulnerable to attack than predecessors, especially due to increased bandwidth and more overall connected devices.
- Quantum Computing isn’t a threat in itself, but could be leveraged by criminals to break encryption faster, leading today’s cybersecurity professionals to already be working on postquantum solutions.
These growing cyberthreats add more layers of complexity and trickery to the already devious tactics of current cybercrime. Phishing through deepfake videos, 5G database exposures, and accidental sharing of disinformation are just some of the ways these threats could combine in tandem and make the digital world of the future even more risky.
Learn to Combat Emerging Cyber Threats in 2021 at Cybersecurity Bootcamp
But there is hope—cybersecurity professionals who are ready to meet and defeat these threats. For every one data breach that makes the news, there are thousands more which are prevented every day. If you’re inspired to join the fight, protect others, and earn an amazing living while you do it, we’d love to tell you more about the Eleven Fifty Academy bootcamp that can prepare you.
Our courses will have you ready for entry-level cybersecurity jobs quickly for a brand-new career in 2021. Talk to one of our admissions specialists today to enter the new year with a bang, or take the introductory cybersecurity class for free to further explore if this field is right for you.