2020 left many organizations with a crisis on their hands and left many leaders asking what was next for their people, processes, and technologies. From the transition into work from home to the changes that involved moving employees out of the office, everyone from cybersecurity to the controllers office was left asking what was needed to keep everything under control.

2021 expects to be no different, according to a new report from Experian predicting the next wave of threats expected to hit organizations in the coming year. As noted in the Experian 2021 Data Breach Industry Forecast,

“While nations scrambled to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic, cybercriminals found new opportunities to strike. As businesses and citizens adjust to a “new normal,” hackers have likewise honed in on new targets and new means to access sensitive data certain to wreak havoc in the New Year.”

From the vaccine ripple effect to the increasing threats of ransomware on home networks, the report details some of the biggest threats to organizations and people and what will need to be done to stop them.

Prediction: The Vaccine Ripple Effect

As the world races toward a COVID-19 vaccine, cybercriminals may try to capitalize on global anxiety by spreading misinformation and conspiracy theories. This has the potential to create global uncertainty and panic. These same criminals could also plot to disrupt vaccine supply chains and impact vaccine availability for countries, creating a new kind of pandemic warfare.

Social media will continue to be a threat vector, ranging from phishing emails about companies providing the vaccine to social media misinformation.

Prediction: Increased Ransomware on the Home Network

With more employees spending time at home, hackers continue to get better at getting into the networks. With these networks now connected to corporate networks, ransomware could become a bigger threat than it already is.

Experian notes that cybercriminals will target individuals by using connected devices to carry out attacks. These attacks can be particularly malicious, going as far as holding wealthy families or celebrities hostage in their homes for ransom. We predict in 2021 that at least one wealthy family or celebrity will experience a takeover situation via their connected home devices.

Prediction: Threats to the Contact Tracing Network

Contact tracing apps are a double-edged sword. Widespread adoption of contact tracing apps could help us minimize the spread of COVID-19, but these systems also have the potential to leave us vulnerable to cyberattacks—exposing the private information of thousands of people.

Experian notes that cybercriminals may make use of vulnerabilities in the rapidly built applications, taking advantage of application programming interfaces to gain access to other parts of a network.

Prediction: Exposing the Weaknesses in Newly Christened 5G Networks

5G is making its way to your connected devices soon, if it’s not already there. It’s a next-generation wireless technology that’s expected to make waves, from cell phones to self-driving vehicles. What makes 5G unique is its speed. What makes it concerning is the billions of new endpoints susceptible to attack.

As the Internet of Things brings data closer to the source, these devices may have more permissions than they need, exposing mission-critical data to prying eyes.

An Organization-Wide Responsibility: Controllers Take Notice

Whether it’s a move to the cloud or it’s finding the right IT help, if part of your job is to manage risk at your organization, it pays to be in the know. That’s where the Controllers Council comes in. With forums, benchmarking, and networking opportunities, we are proud to help you successfully navigate the new and ongoing challenges you face.

The entire Experian Data Breach Prediction Report is available from our friends at VMITS, and if you’re looking to join others in discussing risk management strategies and tactics, we invite you to join the Controllers Council.

Additional Cybersecurity Resources

Risk Mitigation and Management: Cybersecurity Basics for Controllers

Controller’s Role in a Company Data Breach

Five Resources for Controllers Looking to Understand Cybersecurity