Malware Threats: What to Watch for in 2021

Posted on May 17, 2021 Knowledgebase

About 78% of businesses lack confidence in their company’s cybersecurity posture. About 91% of businesses have increased their 2021 cybersecurity budgets as a result. 

Cybercrime could cost the world about $10.5 trillion every year by 2025.

Is your business secure enough to withstand the latest malware threats? It helps to stay informed. Hackers are growing smarter and more resilient.

Their attacks are becoming more complex as well.

Here are the 2021 malware threats you need to remain informed of this year. Tracking the trends in malware and ransomware in 2021 will help you prepare. Taking the proper precautions now can help you avoid expensive costs in the future.

Learn more about the current malware threats with this guide today!

1. Social Engineering Attacks

Social engineering is a non-technical strategy that relies on human interactions. A hacker can deceive a member of your team into breaching security practices. These attacks have become more popular in the past year.

Digital criminals are learning how to improve their engineering techniques. They’ve started using more complex procedures for social engineering attacks.

Their common tactics will likely become more advanced in the next year. As their attacks become more extensive, hackers can gain access to private information. They’re already using social engineering techniques such as:

  • Phishing (creating fraudulent messages that look legitimate)
  • Spear phishing (targeted attacks that rely on using someone’s personal information to gain their trust)
  • Pretexting (using a series of lies to encourage victims to perform dangerous, urgent tasks)

Consider using network detection, response, and SIEM technologies. You can start identifying where malware enters your network as it occurs. Then, you can prevent social engineering attacks from impacting your business.

Make sure you communicate with your team members, too. Review these malware threats with your employees. Educate them to reduce your threat surface.

Implementing cybersecurity best practices throughout your business can help you prevent potential attacks.

You can also train members of your team to spot social engineering attacks like phishing. Becoming more aware of these 2021 malware and ransomware attacks is essential. You can’t protect yourself if you don’t know what you’re up against.

Instead, you can develop a set of security posture guidelines for your business.  

2. Lack of Monitoring

Many companies are struggling to track their critical systems due to:

  • A shortage of trained security engineers
  • Alert fatigue
  • Overload
  • Poor automation

Some companies fail to create cybersecurity protocols in the first place. 

Consider working with a company that has the experience and expertise you need. They can use their cybersecurity skills to improve your system. With their help, you can reduce your risk of a security incident.

Mitigating your risk will help you protect sensitive information. Keeping sensitive information out of the wrong hands can benefit your company’s reputation. Consumers will have peace of mind knowing they can trust your business.

If you fall vulnerable to a hack, they might turn toward your competitors instead.

Meanwhile, security incidents can impact your company’s productivity. Lost productivity could hurt your bottom line. 

Consider investing in cybersecurity education and awareness this year. Train your team to ensure they can prepare for and handle these threats. Otherwise, partner with a company that can handle your cybersecurity needs for you.  

3. Internet-Facing Vulnerabilities

About 30,000 websites around the world get hacked each day. Meanwhile, 75 records go missing every second. Every 39 seconds, there’s a new attack on the web.

If you’re connected to the internet, you’re exposed to internet-facing vulnerabilities. Any system with an IP address or hostname resolving in DNS is vulnerable.

Are your remote workers using a VPN? Do you use Remote Desktop Protocol or other access tools? You’re still at risk.

As you expand your internet presence with internet-accessible systems, your risk can increase.

Cyber attackers are focusing on compromising internet-facing infrastructure this year. They’re looking to exploit vulnerabilities in unpatched servers. This allows them to identify potential victims or steal credentials. 

Don’t leave your cybersecurity system out-of-date. You’ll need more than endpoint security solutions and perimeter defenses for your business.

Establish a vulnerability management program. Scan and patch systems as needed.

Consider requiring two-factor authentication and strict password controls for your team, too. Otherwise, enable network-level authentication (NLA). 

4. System Admin Tool Exploitation

Cyberattacks can use legitimate tools to gain access to your network. For example, they can use your system administration tools to breach your systems.

Companies are interconnecting their IT systems to improve efficiency and productivity. That makes it easier for hackers to use penetration tools to access your network.

Hackers can use these tools to run software into your device’s memory. This decreases the likelihood you can detect the harmful software as a result. 

Try to prevent your devices from becoming infected in the first place. Focus on training your employees this year. Teaching them how to detect potential software issues is essential.

You can also rely on machine learning and artificial intelligence. 

An automated system can detect potential issues for you. Automatic detection can improve your response times.

Otherwise, keep your antivirus software up-to-date. Restrict privileges to ensure no one gains unnecessary access to specific software. 

5. Human-Operated Ransomware

To protect your company from malware threats, consider human-operated ransomware attacks. Skilled criminals orchestrate these attacks. They’re usually motivated by financial gain.

Cybercriminals can spend weeks or months identifying potential victims. They’ll then overcome a company’s defenses for a more effective attack.

Criminals can hold your company’s private information ransom until you pay them off. In some cases, the payoff reaches millions of dollars.

There are three ways ransomware can infect your system:

  • Automated programs/exploit kits
  • Social media phishing
  • Email phishing

Cybercriminals encourage users to click on their content using extensive research. They’ll determine which tactics are most likely to work on a specific victim. For example, they might use authentic-looking email addresses, grammar, or logos. 

Genuine messages make it easier for criminals to entice their victims. These victims open phishing messages without thinking because they look real.

To protect your company from human-operated ransomware, keep your team well-trained. They’ll need to learn how to identify suspicious links on-sight. Improve your company’s cybersecurity posture.

Make sure your software is up-to-date, too. 

6. Fileless Attacks

About 60% of businesses that fall victim to a cyberattack go out of business within six months. Malware and ransomware in 2021 have become more creative. For example, some hackers are using fileless attacks.

These hacks use tools that are already present within the victim’s environment. Hackers don’t have to create new files to trick their victims. Instead, they can stay under the radar and avoid detection. 

Some hackers will email their victims a link to a malicious website. They can then use social engineering tricks on the site, which will launch their attack.

A system tool can then retrieve and executive payloads. These payloads can impact your system’s memory. 

It’s often a challenge to identify malicious use of built-in system tools. 

7. Cloud Attacks

With more companies working from home, many businesses are adopting:

  • Remote access tools
  • Collaborative apps and tools
  • Cloud services

It’s important to make sure you have an IT expert with the proper training on your team. Otherwise, they could struggle to configure these solutions. They might fail to vet your tools as well. 

Don’t rush to start using cloud computing tools. Make sure to use protected server applications, containers, and cloud storage. Vet the cloud storage company before trusting them with your data.

Otherwise, attacks could target your employees who are working from home. They can come at you from weaker areas. They’ll focus on connected consumer devices or low-grade firewalls to impact your enterprise.

A hacker could compromise a service to expose many other organizations down the line. Hackers can sidestep your security by infiltrating higher levels of the network. They can then deploy payloads using tools you already use and trust. 

Other, misconfiguration mistakes could increase your risk of an attack. You could expose yourself to hackers and data breaches in the future.

8. AI Attacks

Many companies rely on AI to boost their productivity. Unfortunately, hackers have started using it as well.

For example, a hacker might create a deep fake to impersonate a company executive. They can then steal files or money. AI is also used to create more personalized phishing emails and new malware.

Though AI attacks are rare, they are becoming more of a risk. Criminals are still learning how to use AI to develop scalable attacks. They can automate and personalize attacks based on their victims.

In fact, AI could create a denial of service attack. This type of attack could shut down a data center. It could make ransomware more aggressive as well.

Stay Secure: 8 Malware Threats to Watch Out for in 2021

Don’t leave your company vulnerable. Instead, keep an eye out for these malware threats. By tracking these cybersecurity issues in 2021, you remain secure. 

Need help ensuring your cloud and private information remains secure? We’re here to help. 

Learn more about our Security-as-a-Service (SaaS) cybersecurity plans today.

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