Report Finds State-Sponsored Cybersecurity Attacks Set to Increase in 2020


With global political tensions showing little sign of decreasing, the number and intensity of state-sponsored cyberattacks is predicted to grow next year, causing problems for corporations and governments around the world.

According to a new report released by analyst firm Ecosystm and supported by SGInnovate (the Singapore based organisation that builds and scales Deep Tech startups), the increase in attacks directed against utilities and public infrastructure will give many countries little option but to retaliate. The result will be an escalation in cyber hostilities that could cause widespread damage and loss.

“For some years now we have been observing an increase in state-sponsored attacks and this shows no sign of abating in 2020,” says report co-author and Ecosystm analyst, Carl Woerndle. “Attacks targeting everything from power grids and transportation networks to banks and government departments are not only possible but increasingly likely.”

The Ecosystm Predicts: Top 5 Cybersecurity & Compliance Trends in 2020 report highlights the top five cybersecurity and compliance trends that will emerge during the coming 12 months. As well as state-sponsored attacks against public infrastructure, there is also expected to be an increase in those targeting commercial interests.

API attacks on the rise

“We anticipate that vulnerabilities in APIs will become a more favoured target for attackers during the year,” says Woerndle. “The appeal of this attack vector comes from the increasing use of APIs in corporate data platforms. Unfortunately, they are inherently insecure and offer an enticing entry point for cybercriminals.”

Woerndle points to a number of high-profile API-related attacks including one against Google+ that exposed the personal details of more than 500,000 users. Another, against Facebook, allowed more than 1500 third-party apps to access the private images of as many as 6.8 million users.

“The report shows this problem will be significantly worse during 2020 with APIs becoming one of the most used targets for attackers,” he says.

Operational Technology security found wanting

Cybercriminals are also focusing on operational technology (OT) as a means of gaining access to systems to cause disruption and loss. Most OT -- the hardware and software that manages devices within an organisation’s infrastructure -- was not designed to be networked. However, with the rise of the Internet of Things, new links are being established that provide wider access.

“Because the focus will remain on data breaches, much-needed investment in OT security will continue to lag,” says Woerndle. “This will cause increasing problems for those organisations that don’t invest in preventative controls now.”

Growing focus on AI and privacy

As the capabilities of artificial intelligence (AI) platforms grow, increasing attention is being given to training them to make their responses more accurate. Companies such as Google and Amazon are pushing hard to make their AI-based assistant services as accurate as possible by using natural language processing techniques.

“As these services become more embedded in our daily lives, there will be an increasing focus on the implications this has for privacy,” says Woerndle. “During 2020, we can expect to see law makers give more attention to this issue and the regulations that are required.”

GDPR fines to rise

Despite having been in place for more than a year, the European Union’s GDPR regulations are yet to result in significant numbers of prosecutions and fines. This is forecast to change during the coming 12 months.

Woerndle says just two fines were issued in 2018, and around 29 issued during 2019. “We anticipate this rate will climb throughout the coming year,” he says. “As well as the number, we also expect the value of the fines to rise sharply.”

Mergers and acquisitions to continue

There is nothing new about mergers and acquisitions in the cybersecurity sector, however the pace of activity is forecast to increase during 2020.

“Cybersecurity is booming globally and therefore creating opportunities for cashed-up vendors and private equity funds,” he says. “As a result, the current fragmented market is likely to consolidate throughout the year.”
Woerndle says 2020 will be a busy and rapidly evolving year for security vendors, customers and end users. “The pace of change will continue to grow, making it even more important that businesses and public-sector organisations stay up-to-date with trends and developments,” he concludes.

About Ecosystm

Ecosystm is a new age Technology Research and Advisory Platform that brings together tech buyers, vendors and analysts into one integrated platform. The firm moves away from the highly inefficient business models of traditional research firms and instead focuses on data democratisation, with an emphasis on accessibility, transparency and autonomy.

With technology becoming the number one source for innovation and differentiation, and global annual spending on technology due to exceed US$5 trillion by 2020, Ecosystm aims to enable all companies to harness the power of real-time market data and insights from best in class analysts to make informed decisions. Offering data and research input, sourcing and subscription services, Ecosystm promises its users in-depth and relevant research by default.

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