Posted on January 19, 2022 at 5:18 PM
Cybersecuity has become a vital topic for organizations over the past few years. As online threat actors keep finding ways to infiltrate servers, companies and business organizations need to look for better data protection measures.
Last year had plenty of drama in the cybersecurity world with attacks on hospitals, the meat supply chain, as well as pipeline attacks. The attacks reflected on the continued expansion of the cyber-physical systems.
From the Colonial Pipeline attacks to the Microsoft Exchange server’s breach, the year was packed with several threats and ransomware incidents.
The threat landscape is likely going to evolve and expand at a rapid pace in 2022. There could be more weaponization of firmware exploits as well as more threat from ransomware gangs. . That’s why organizations need to be fully prepared for the security challenges that lay ahead for them. The following are the top cybersecurity threats organizations should be ready for in 2022.
An Increase In Phishing Attacks
Threat actors may intensify efforts to launch phishing attacks in this era of hybrid work. The line between professional and personal is now blurred, as employees are now using corporate devices for personal use and home devices for work.
Phishing aims at deceiving users to compromise confidential and important information. Generally, the threat actors make use of fake emails and make them look like they are coming from legitimate or reliable sources. The main goal is to deceive users into taking some actions such as clicking on a link or opening an attached file. This action allows the threat actor to install malware on the target’s device.
Organizations witnessed several phishing attacks in 2021 and the trend will likely continue in 2022, targeting both personal and corporate email accounts. This could double the threat actors’ chances of becoming successful in their attack.
This year will also witness some high-profile sporting events, with the Winter Olympics in Beijing and the FIFA World in Qatar two of the most popular ones to come.
As is the case with other major sporting events, hackers usually take the opportunity to send phishing emails to unsuspecting victims.
They give hackers plenty of scope for exploitation, as the threat actors can impersonate organizers and other stakeholders to deceive their victims.
Such large events attract opportunistic attacks, either via a direct attack on participants or an attack on sponsors and organizers. In some cases, threat actors can exploit their targets using ransomware or malware campaigns targeted at users. This makes it necessary for organizations to educate their workforce on the risks while enforcing technical controls to prevent compromise.
Ransomware Threats Will Continue
A ransomware attack is one of the most popular kinds of attacks on companies and organizations. The trend is likely going to continue this year, with victims potentially being hit more than once.
However, threat actors could use a new method known as “social media pile-on” Once the victimized organization succumbs by paying a ransom, others will try to launch their attacks to get into the action. Hackers may also attempt to attack an organization multiple times, which can double or triple extortion rackets.
Additionally, ransomware operators may intensify efforts to pressure their victims to pay the ransom. They could utilize different extortion methods such as contacting business associates and customers of the victim organizations.
Industries with a lot to lose if their data is exposed could be targeted more. Industries in the critical infrastructure and healthcare sector are at higher risks of being targeted. The threat actors may also target high-risk devices in these organizations, such as critical medical support systems and their supporting infrastructure. In these areas, the threat actors could persuade the victim organizations to pay quickly since significant harm will be at the highest.
The Weaponization Of Firmware Attacks
Threat actors that want to carry out destructive attacks or gain long-term persistent attacks could utilize firmware, which lowers the bar for entry.
Cybersecuity of firmware is usually neglected by business organizations, which can give threat actors more motivation to launch attacks. Hackers have carried out reconnaissance of firmware configurations in the last year, which could be a preparation to exploit them in future attacks.
In the past, these types of attacks were utilized by nation-state actors. However, sophisticated cybercriminal groups working alone could start weaponizing threats and create a blueprint to monetize attacks.
The tendency could even be more prevalent if organizations continue to show a lack of visibility and control over firmware security. As a result, industries, where these types of attacks are more probable, should start thinking about the high level of risks posed by exploits and lo-level malware.
Continuation Of Software Supply Chain Attack
Threat actors could try to draw from the success of the software supply chain attacks last year to launch further attacks on organizations. The Kaseya breach, which affected more than 1,500 organizations, shows how hackers can monetize supply chain attacks. This means that there is a high possibility that threat actors could launch more supply chain attacks next year. Additionally, there could be a continued modification of the procedures, techniques, and tactics (TTPs) used to carry out such attacks.
Threat actors will likely search for weak links in software supply chains to target widely used software. All independent software vendors should learn from the Kaseya attack and see it as a wake-up call. They should understand that they can still be caught in the crossfire even if their customer base doesn’t consist of government or enterprise customers
Organizations should also know that both small and medium-scale enterprises are also at risk of being targeted.
These types of attacks could become more prevalent in 2022 as threat actors look for a more comprehensive method of infiltrating the servers of thousands of companies.
More Threats On Internet Of Things (IoT) Devices
The level of unsecured and unmanaged devices connected to the internet has created a broader attack surface. IoT devices are more vulnerable because there is less emphasis placed on their security. As it has been in 2021, threat actors will continue their attacks on these devices to infiltrate office and home networks.
Hackers may also start targeting the personal networks and homes of government officials and top executives since they can get through the corporate networks through these officials.
This is one of the most common types of security threats affecting organizations, and one of the most neglected as well. Inside threats usually take place when employees unintentionally or intentionally misuse authorized access which harms the organization’s system.
In a lot of instances, the attack is a result of failure to comply with the organization’s policies and procedures.
As a result, they are likely to share their login details with external parties of email customer data, which can attract threat actors into the company’s network. this generally disrupts operations and leads to heavy damage to data.
Insider threats can also be carried out by former employees who may still have access to some company network. To prevent the potential risks from insider threats, organizations can use different approaches.
Organizations can choose to train employees on cybersecurity or limit their authorized access
Limit employees’ authorized access. They should also be informed of the different types and levels of security threats they can face. Also, the installation of employee monitoring software and the implementation of two-factor authentication has proven to be very helpful to many organizations. These strategies can also be applied in 2022 to prevent the impact of insider threats on the organization.
Cloud Attacks Could Increase In 2022
Cloud computing has become a vital part of our everyday life. But people should be wary that threat actors are also looking for more avenues to attack organizations and individuals through the cloud. Also, remember that not all cloud services offer secure encryption and authentication. Misconfiguration can lead to several incidents, such as network vulnerabilities, intrusions, and data leaks. Many of cloud security breaches are caused by simplistic issues, which means avoiding or preventing them will not be a difficult task.
To prevent or safeguard systems against cloud attacks in 2022, organizations should utilize penetrating testing, identify those that access their data, secure a data backup plan, and train/educate their employees.
Increase Of Nation-State Attacks
The cybersecurity world has been having a serious battle with nation-state threat groups because of the attacking sophistication of the latter. Last year, there were reported attacks, both large and small, conducted by state and non-state actors alike.
This trend is probably going to continue in 2022 as the threat actors look to find more loopholes to launch their attacks.
State actors try to achieve geopolitical objectives by organizing and funding these operations while seeking to prevent detection wherever possible. For non-state actors, apart from the monetary rewards they get from such attacks, they also seek to become very notorious in the darknet world.
These groups have a wider connection of individuals and other groups they get information and resources when launching attacks. With the increased access to cryptocurrencies and rising geopolitical tensions, these groups of actors are likely going to continue their activities in 2022.
Although efforts from security agencies may lead to some arrests, it will not stop some nation-state actors to continue their usual activities in the present year. Russian authorities have started the year with an effort to arrest the notorious REvil ransomware group. While this is a welcome development, organizations should not be relaxed because there are other highly sophisticated hacking groups out there that are still very operational.
Organizations should boost their security settings and platforms because these threat actors are going to come up with more techniques to breach security systems. There are more adversaries from other countries such as Iraq, North Korea, and even China. So, organizations should be prepared to face the increased level of attacks that could come up in 2022.
Malicious advertising became widely used by threat actors in 2021 to plant malicious code within digital ads, redirecting users to malicious websites. Although these ads target individuals, organizations should be wary, as the threat actors usually impersonate the organizations to carry out the threats.
This type of attack is very difficult to be identified by publishers or internet users and they are usually sent to the targeted victims via advertising networks. This means that any advertisement displayed on websites presents a risk of infection.
The trend is becoming more rampant because even some globally recognized companies can send adverts without knowing that the ads are infected.
Some can display malicious ads on their website without having an idea. This means that the most effective way of dealing with such threats is to create more awareness.
Also, they should avoid using Flash or Java programs, install antivirus and ad blockers, and regularly update software and extensions. Organizations should place more emphasis on the security of their advertisements. They should use the best-in-class software to sweep their portals clear of any malware activities. Securing their portals is more important when dealing with this type of threat because it will be easier to handle by the organization than the end-users who are receiving the malware-infested adverts.
Organizations should also evaluate third-party ad networks that choose, inspect, and run ads. They should regularly scan ads they want to display to make sure they are not filled with malicious files.
2021 ended with a lot of events in the ransomware and cybersecurity world. From all indications, threat actors don’t look like they are going to relent in their efforts to attack organizations in 2022.
From ransomware attacks to cryptocurrency heists, the areas where attackers can target are enormous. This makes it very important for business organizations to provide a more solid way to deal with security issues in their organizations. In addition, companies and government agencies should collaborate to find a stronger way to guide against the ménage of the different groups of threat actors.
The bad actors are busy preparing for more effective ways to successfully launch attacks in 2022. That’s why it’s imperative to develop a strong security network across all organizations to prepare for the onslaught of these threat actors.