Cybersecurity 2020: challenges and threats to be aware of

The risk and severity of cyber-attacks have increased over the past few years. In recent years, mankind has witnessed the most horrifying cases of cybercrimes relating to data breaches, crypto-jacking, flaws in microchips, and many others.

The wide use of digital media and the advancement of technology is making attackers increasingly smarter. Additionally, cybercriminals take advantage of companies and individuals who pay less attention to cybersecurity. To gain access to sensitive information, they target everything ranging from newly launched blogs to established online stores.

In 2020, there are new levels of cybersecurity threats that businesses need to be aware of. The Threat Horizon report developed by Information Security Forum revealed that organisations will face cyber threats in three main types:

  • Disruption: Dependence on fragile connectivity increases the risk of deliberate internet outages, compromising business operations. Criminals use ransomware to hijack the Internet of Things;
  • Distortion: Automated sources and bots spreading misinformation causes compromise of trust in the integrity of the information;
  • Deterioration: Fast advances in technologies and conflicting demands of developing national security negatively impacts a business’s ability to control information.

Therefore, it’s more important now than ever in cybersecurity to stay ahead of threats instead of managing them after. Let’s go through the top cybersecurity threats that businesses are facing in 2020.

Sophisticated Phishing attacks

Carefully targeted digital messages are sent to trick people into clicking links that expose sensitive data or install malware. As people are now more aware of email phishing and the dangers of clicking on suspicious links, cybercriminals are working harder and being more creative. Hackers are using machine learning to more quickly create and send out convincing fake messages hoping that employees will compromise their organisation’s systems and networks. Such attacks allow hackers to steal user logins, credit card details and access private databases.

Evolving Ransomware Strategies

Ransomware attacks cost victims billions of dollars each year, as hackers utilise technologies enabling them to kidnap a person or organisation’s database and hold the information for ransom. The rise in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin has helped fuel ransomware attacks as it allows ransom demands to be paid anonymously. As large companies build their defences to protect against ransomware breaches, experts believe hackers are now increasingly targeting other profitable victims such as high net-worth individuals and small businesses.


This is a trend where cybercriminals hijack third-party computers to ‘mine’ for cryptocurrency. Because cryptocurrency mining (like Bitcoin) needs huge amounts of computer processing power, hackers make money by piggybacking on another person’s systems. Crypto jacked systems in businesses cause major performance issues and costly downtime as IT is focused on finding and resolving the issue.

State-Sponsored Attacks

Entire states and countries are now using their cyber skills to penetrate other governments and undertake attacks on critical infrastructure. Cybercrime in 2020 is a major threat not only for businesses but for the government and the nation. This year, state-sponsored attacks are expected to be on the rise, with attacks on critical infrastructure of specific concern. These attacks target government-run infrastructure and systems, but private sector organisations are at risk too.

IoT Attacks

The Internet of Things is becoming more universal by the day. It includes laptops, tablets, webcams, routers, household appliances, medical devices, smartwatches, manufacturing equipment, home security systems and even automobiles. Connected devices are convenient for people and companies use them to save money. This is achieved by gathering large amounts of data and streamlining business processes. Although, more connected devices mean more risk, making IoT networks increasingly vulnerable to cyber infections and invasions. Once hackers are in control, IoT devices are used to overload networks, create havoc or lockdown essential equipment for financial gain.

Electronic Medical Records (EMRs) and Smart Medical Devices

There are concerns around privacy and cybersecurity threats as the health care industry adapts to the digital age. Hackers are exploring the vulnerabilities of medical facilities and hospitals that are adapting to the digitalisation of patient records. Now that patient medical records are mostly online, they’re a major target for hackers because of the sensitive information they contain.

Third Parties

Contractors and vendors pose huge risks to corporations and mostly have no security system or dedicated team to manage third-party employees. A report published by on “Security Risks of Third-Party Vendor Relationships” estimates that 60% of data breaches are involving a third party and only 52% of companies have security practices and standards in place relating to third-party contractors and vendors.

Social Engineering

Social engineers are hackers who exploit the one weakness that is found in every organisation; human psychology. These attackers trick people into offering them access to sensitive information using a range of media, including social media and phone calls.

Shortage of Cybersecurity Professionals

The huge shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals is a growing cause for concern since a smart, strong digital workforce is critical to battle frequent, increasingly sophisticated cybersecurity threats emerging around the world. The trend of businesses and governments struggling to hire enough qualified professionals is continuing through 2020 and is estimated to continue beyond.

COVID-19 Cyber Security Advice

Due to COVID-19 times, the Australian Government is raising awareness about the evolving nature of COVID-19 related malicious cyber activity impacting Australians and in particular Australian businesses.

Cyber Security Experts

At Xenex Systems, the protection of your organisation’s data is our IT engineer’s number one priority. Our partnership with WatchGuard Security and the use of their Managed Security Service Provider Partner Program gives us access to the latest technology updates. Fill out this form to find out how we can help redefine your data and cybersecurity to protect your business and help you achieve a resilient cyber defence position to continue to operate regardless of the threats you face.

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