10 Most Dangerous New Malware and Security Threats in 2021

With so many things happening in the cyber realm and so much still that are expected to happen, how do you think does cybersecurity look in 2021?

Is there such a thing as absolute data privacy? Unfortunately, absolute data privacy is hard to come by today. Everyone connected to the internet remains exposed and at risk of cyberattacks, especially those co-working or working remotely.

We already know that cyberattacks are constantly evolving, following in the steps of evolving technology. They’re becoming even harder to detect, which is making them more dangerous.

While constantly evolving, attackers seek new strategies and exploits to defraud and damage individuals and organizations. Some are so stealthy that a basic Anti-Malware cannot detect them. Some older cyber threats and strategies remain amongst the most dangerous threats in 2021 and possibly beyond.

Considering what malware entities nowadays can do, what do you think are the most dangerous Threats to watch out for in 2021?

1. Social Engineering Attacks (Phishing)

In 2018, phishing was one of the most rampant cyber threats. Cybersecurity experts identified that in every 99 emails, one was a phishing attack, and with billions of emails sent a day, phishing indeed terrorized many people.

Phishing often bypasses basic security protection. Using phishing emails, attackers trick unknowing victims into surrendering their sensitive information — such as:

  • Credit card information
  • Work login credentials
  • Passwords to online bank accounts

With the rise of remote work and work from home setups because of COVID-19, last year has started to see a surge in phishing attacks. So, you need to take extreme precautions, especially when dealing with emails from unknown persons. You can also learn how to delete junk files to protect your PC against malware entities that might hide in the files you no longer use.

2. Ransomware

Ransomware evolved to become one of the world’s most dangerous cyber threats. Although security experts began to observe a decline in ransomware attacks - especially those that target individuals - in the beginning of 2017, 2019 saw an increase in ransomware attacks. According to ITPro Today, the detection rate in businesses and industry rose from 2.8 million in 2018 to over 9.5 million in early 2019.

Ransomware can come in different forms, such as:

  • Links
  • Fake Windows updates
  • Freeware
  • Email links

It appears that ransomware attacks have shifted their focus to businesses and wealthy individuals, as seen by a recent attack on Jeff Bezos’ phone in early 2021. This year, ransomware continues to be a grave threat, especially to the business community.

Businesses constantly face the risk of encryption malware (ransomware) infiltrating their systems and encrypting and damaging their data which amounts to huge losses.

3. COVID-19

While the world is under the attack of a disease never seen before - the COVID-19 - cybercriminals exploit this situation to send malware attacks.

In the onset of the COVID-19, there have been many websites, image links, attachments, disguised as legitimate information about the pandemic. When unknowing users who seek legitimate information about the pandemic click or download these dubious links, they get attacked.

Many organizations, including hospitals, have been affected by COVID-19-related malware.

4. IoT Device-Based Attacks

The world has started to realize an increase in the number of internet-connected “smart devices.” Unfortunately, most of these IoT “smart” devices have no security or they have weak security installed in their systems, which makes them vulnerable and easily compromised.

IoT attacks have become a serious cybersecurity threat. They target internet-connected smart devices and machines (such as Wi-Fi-enabled printers, appliances, lightings, speakers, etc.) to sneak in malware.

Always ensure that you consider applying security measures when installing IoT devices at home or in the office. Aside from that, you need to have basic knowledge about PC tips and tricks to help you manage your IoT devices’ security.

5. Fleeceware

Fleeceware is not a new malware but has developed its attack strategies beyond the common malware methods. Its main target is Android devices.

Security research indicates that over 600 million Android users have, at some point, downloaded Fleeceware on their devices, knowingly or unknowingly, which has led to devastating attacks.

Often, users never realize the presence of Fleeceware on their devices, and it continues to charge them large amounts of money, even after they delete the App. Even worse, users never realize the charges until it’s too late.

6. Artificial Intelligence (AI) Attacks

As developers continue to program AI scripts and software for further technology improvement, cybercriminals copy these scripts and texts and use them for malicious purposes.

Cybercriminals emulate machine learning and other AI algorithms, which help cybersecurity researchers to combat malware and use them to power their AI technologies to launch cyber hacks. This has been seen to be on the rise by late 2019 and early 2021.

7. Cryptojacking

With the popularity of cryptocurrencies, cryptojacking has risen to become a serious security threat. 2018 and 2019 saw a reduction in crypto mining activities due to the effects of Bitcoin. However, in 2021, with the increase in work from home activities and increased activities associated with Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies, cryptojacking activities have also increased.

8. DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) Attacks

DDoS attacks are still a significant cyber threat, especially to organizations. DDoS attacks target network resources and block them from processing legitimate traffic.

DDoS vary in their attack levels, and the worst part is that every attack has a different level of complexity, which makes them a dangerous cybersecurity threat.

9. Zeus Gameover

When talking about malware, Zeus Gameover will always be on the list. It is among the most dangerous malware on the internet today and is part of the “Zeus” malware family. Zeus’s main targets are the users’ financial information and sensitive bank or online banking details. It aims to steal a user’s funds.

Zeus Gameover operates by bypassing centralized user servers and creating its independent servers, which it uses to send sensitive information. This way, users cannot notice any activity and will not be aware of the threat they are facing until it is done.

10. Asynchronous Procedure Calls (APCs) in System Kernels

Many of you may not know, but your system may be at risk. Ars Technica security researchers explain APCs as a way of temporarily directing a security thread to stop running its function and instead begin running a different function only to resume the thread later. This poses a serious cybersecurity risk to users.

Since the interruption of function is in the system kernel, users may not realize this security threat, and non-IT people cannot even think about it. Organizations need to always keep their systems updated to avoid exposing their systems to such security risks.

Wrapping Up

You cannot prevent what you don’t expect, and that leaves you vulnerable to malware and security threats. Keeping yourself updated with the new malware and security threats today gives you a leg up to preventing cyberattacks.

*Jessica Bullet for ROI4CIO

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