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Fortinet unveils predictions from FortiGuard Labs’ threat predictions for 2021

For the year 2021 and beyond, cybercriminals will leverage edge computing, 5G-enabled devices, and advances in computing performance and connectivity to create new and advanced threats at unprecedented speed and scale.

The ever-changing security landscape faces new threats every year as cyberattackers evolve their approach, using a range of techniques to get into businesses and organizations. When a technique they used fails, they move on to the next, until they find a weak spot. 

As the year 2020 draws to a close, cybersecurity solutions provider Fortinet unveiled predictions from the FortiGuard Labs’ threat predictions for 2021. These predictions reveal tactics that Fortinet expects cybercriminals will leverage in the near future as well as trends that can be expected to see in the coming years.  

For the year 2021 and beyond, cybercriminals will leverage edge computing, 5G-enabled devices, and advances in computing performance and connectivity to create new and advanced threats at unprecedented speed and scale.

Intelligent edge environments such as WAN, multi-cloud, data center, remote workers, IoT, and more, which replaced traditional networks will be the target of attackers. While these edges are interconnected, many organizations have sacrificed centralized visibility and unified control in favor of performance and digital transformation. Thus, this becomes an advantage for cyber criminals to target these environments using the speed and scale possibilities 5G will enable.

Apart from this, cyber adversaries will continue to shift significant resources to target and exploit emerging network edge environments such as remote workers, the cloud or even OT edge environments, rather than just targeting the core network. Besides, advanced malware could also discover more valuable data and trends using new EATs (Edge Access Trojans) and perform invasive activities such as intercept requests off the local network to compromise additional systems or inject additional attack commands.

Deploying 5G-enabled devices opens up opportunities for more advanced threats such as swarm-based attacks. Leveraging hijacked devices divided into subgroups, these attacks target networks or devices as an integrated system and share intelligence in real time to refine attack as it is happening.

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Smart devices will no longer be targets for attacks but will also be conduits for deeper attacks. Leveraging users’ important information such as daily routines and financial information could make social engineering-based attacks more successful. Smarter attacks can now enable the ransoming and extortion of additional data.

As ransomware continues to evolve, and IT systems increasingly converge with OT systems, particularly critical infrastructure, more data, devices and unfortunately lives will be at risk. Human lives will be at risk when field devices and sensors at the OT edge which include critical infrastructure, increasingly become targets of cyber criminals in the field.    

Innovations in computing performance and connectivity will also be targeted for adversaries’ gains. By attacking these innovations, cybercriminals would be able to process massive amounts of data, and learn how and when edge devices are used.

Regarding quantum computing, this innovation could create a new risk when it eventually is capable of challenging the effectiveness of encryption in the future. With enormous compute power, quantum computers could render some asymmetric encryption algorithms solvable. As a result, organizations will need to prepare to shift to quantum-resistant crypto algorithms by using the principle of crypto agility to ensure the protection of current and future information.

Artificial Intelligence (AI)-driven technology will be critical to defend against future attacks. This technology needs to evolve to the next generation that can see, anticipate, and counter attacks as cyber attacks of the future will occur in microseconds. Threat actor playbooks or those tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) by threat criminals can be fed to AI systems to enable the detection of attack patterns.  

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