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McAfee Labs threat predictions 2020

Cybercriminals are increasing the complexity and volume of their attacks and campaigns, looking for ways to stay one step ahead of cybersecurity practices – and using evolving technology.

, ET Bureau|
Dec 05, 2019, 01.45 PM IST
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PUNE: Cybersecurity firm McAfee released its Threat Predictions for 2020 and beyond, looking at changing trends in cybercrime, technology and legislation. Cybercriminals are increasing the complexity and volume of their attacks and campaigns, looking for ways to stay one step ahead of cybersecurity practices – and using evolving technology.


“Continuing advancements in artificial intelligence and machine learning have led to invaluable technological gains, but threat actors are also learning to leverage AI and ML in increasingly sinister ways,” said Raj Samani, chief scientist and McAfee Fellow, advanced threat research. “AI technology has extended the capabilities of producing convincing deepfake video to a less-skilled class of threat actor attempting to manipulate individual and public opinion. AI-driven facial recognition, a growing security asset, is also being used to produce deepfake media capable of fooling humans and machines.”


Researchers also expect attacks against corporate networks to steal information in two-stage ransomware campaigns, he added.


With more enterprises turning to cloud services, the need for cloud security is greater than ever. The increased adoption of robotic process automation and the growing importance to secure system accounts used for automation raises security concerns tied to Application Programming Interface (API) and their wealth of personal data.


Key predictions:


1. Broader deepfakes capabilities for less-skilled threat actors: Freely available video of public comments can be used to train a machine-learning model that can develop of deepfake video depicting one person’s words coming out of another’s mouth. Attackers can now create automated, targeted content to increase the probability that an individual or groups fall for a campaign. In this way, AI and machine learning can be combined to create massive chaos.


2. Adversaries to generate deepfakes to bypass facial recognition: As technologies are adopted over the coming years, a very viable threat vector will emerge, and we predict adversaries will begin to generate deepfakes to bypass facial recognition. It will be critical for businesses to understand the security risks presented by facial recognition and other biometric systems and invest in educating themselves of the risks as well as hardening critical systems.


3. Ransomware attacks to morph into two-stage extortion campaigns: For 2020, we predict the targeted penetration of corporate networks will continue to grow and ultimately give way to two-stage extortion attacks. In the first stage cybercriminals will deliver a crippling ransomware attack, extorting victims to get their files back. In the second stage criminals will target the recovering ransomware victims again with an extortion attack, but this time they will threaten to disclose the sensitive data stolen before the ransomware attack.


4. Application Programming Interfaces (API) will be exposed as the weakest link leading to cloud-native threats: Vulnerabilities will continue to include broken authorization and authentication functions, excessive data exposure, and a failure to focus on rate limiting and resource limiting attacks. Insecure consumption-based APIs without strict rate limits are among the most vulnerable.


5. DevSecOps will rise to prominence as growth in containerized workloads causes security controls to ‘shift left’: Container-based cloud deployments are growing in popularity due to the ease with which DevOps teams can continuously roll out micro-services and interacting, reusable components as applications. As a result, the number of organizations prioritizing the adoption of container technologies will continue to increase in 2020.
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