Best of 2019: Cyberattacks: Top 5 Ways You Could Be Hacked in 2020

As we close out 2019, we at Security Boulevard wanted to highlight the five most popular articles of the year. Following is the fourth in our weeklong series of the Best of 2019.

The New Year means new ways for cybercriminals to execute widespread cyberattacks on businesses and consumers, which opens the door for massive data breaches that could impact millions of Americans on a larger scale than ever before. The “2020 Data Breach Industry Forecast” from Experian looks at what businesses and consumers alike could and should expect from cybercriminals next year and beyond, so they can prepare to counteract attacks before it’s too late.

These are the five predictions to keep top of mind as businesses and consumers aim to safeguard their data from cyberattacks in 2020.

Gone ‘Smishing’

Phishing is so 2010s. In the new decade, cybercriminals will increasingly leverage “smishing” as the latest identity theft technique. Hackers will activate smishing strategies by sending faulty text messages via SMS to unsuspecting consumers and request sensitive data, such as credit card or bank account information, that can result in identity theft.

If you’re a business, it’s important to educate your customers on how to recognize these false solicitations for personal data. For example, misspelled words and poor grammar are a couple of tell-tale signs that the text may not be what it seems. A safe bet is to avoid responding to text messages and clicking on links from unknown senders.

It’s a Bird. It’s a Plane. No, It’s a Hacker

When you imagine a hacker breaking into your sensitive business or personal data, you might picture someone sitting at a desk in front of computer screens to get the job done. Think again. In 2020, hackers will take advantage of the public Wi-Fi networks, which many cities have implemented, from the skies. Cybercriminals can now equip drone devices with Pineapple technology (a hand-held hacking device) to scour the skies for consumer data on these public Wi-Fi networks. With more than 1 million drone devices operating in the U.S., cybercriminals have a whole new avenue (or airway) for stealing information, but you can fortify your data security by utilizing password protection and two-factor authentication to minimize your risk. The safest bet? Never use public Wi-Fi.

Don’t Get Faked Out

The term “deepfake” was coined late in the last decade and will persist into the next. Deepfake technology enables cybercriminals to digitally spread misinformation by auto-generating fake video or audio content, or even swapping the faces of celebrities and politicians into what are potentially viral videos on social media. This now readily available technology will cause large-scale disruption across politics, financial markets and other industries as Americans struggle to discern the real from the fake.

New Year, New Targets?

The past decade has welcomed a number of budding industries, such as cannabis retailers and cryptocurrency businesses, which are poised to hit their stride in 2020 if hackers don’t get to them first. These rising industries have created a whole new host of desirable targets for hackers aiming to gain access to sensitive data, and in some cases, they are even more susceptible to traditional attacks, such as phishing or ransomware, because of the companies’ relative youth. Regardless of how established your company is, your business should take protective measures, such as implementing anti-malware or standardizing cybersecurity training programs, to help shield employees from cyberattacks.

Paying the Price for Mobile Payments

The mobile payments industry is booming with no signs of slowing down, thanks to the convenience for consumers and relatively low cost for retailers. As mobile point-of-sale platforms such as those used at concerts or sporting events become more popular, cybercriminals will use this new method of payment to extract sensitive data and tamper with the transactions. While it’s unlikely cash will make a comeback, consumers should be wary before they swipe away at an event.

As 2019 winds down, cybercriminals are undoubtedly ramping up their cyberattack efforts for 2020. Whether you have an existing cybersecurity plan in place or don’t know where to start, now is the time to fortify your cybersecurity efforts for the year to come. Consider the types of data you store or have access to and the potential points of entry a hacker can take to access it (even unlikely ways, such as the sky), and remember: It’s not too late to get ahead of a potential breach so you can have a safe and secure 2020.

Michael Bruemmer

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Michael Bruemmer

Michael Bruemmer is Vice President of the Experian Data Breach Resolution group and Consumer Protection at Experian. The Group is a leader in helping businesses prepare for a data breach and mitigate consumer risk following breach incidents. With more than 25 years in the industry, Michael brings a wealth of knowledge related to data breach preparedness and breach management from discovery to post-incident clean up. He has handled some of the nation’s largest breaches over his tenure with Experian and more than 25,000 to date. Michael has educated businesses of all sizes and sectors through pre-breach and breach response planning and delivery, including notification processes to affected consumers, call center set up and identity theft protection services. He currently resides on the Ponemon Responsible Information Management (RIM) Board and NetDiligence Advisory Board. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in Labor Economics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

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