Home > Articles

Top Cybersecurity Threats of 2020

  • Print
  • + Share This

World-renowned cybersecurity expert Sherri Davidoff shares the latest techniques hackers are employing for the top cybersecurity threats in 2020, along with tips for protecting your organization.

Save 35% off the list price* of the related book or multi-format eBook (EPUB + MOBI + PDF) with discount code ARTICLE.
* See informit.com/terms

Like this article? We recommend

Like this article? We recommend

A new year brings new threats! Discover the top cybersecurity threats companies will face in 2020, based on the latest cases and trends observed by data breach experts. This year, watch out for:

  1. Cloud hacking
  2. Ransomware combined with exposure
  3. Sophisticated supply-chain exploitation

1. Cloud Hacking

Hackers are targeting the cloud and hybrid environments, leveraging increasingly sophisticated techniques. New cloud hacking toolkits have emerged which enable criminals to easily exploit common vulnerabilities. Common cloud hacking techniques include:

  • Shared Architecture Flaws: Attackers take advantage of common cloud configuration flaws, such as the AWS metadata instance leveraged in the CapitalOne data breach.
     
  • Cross-Tenant Attacks: Attackers comprise a virtual server and move laterally to access other resources, leveraging trusted access within the tenant.
     
  • File Synchronization Poisoning: Attackers take advantage of file replication between the cloud and endpoints, using it to spread ransomware or malware throughout multiple cloud applications and hybrid environments.
     
  • Credential Stuffing: Criminals leverage massive databases of stolen usernames and passwords and use them to attempt to login to other services. Credential stuffing rose to prominence in 2019, and experts anticipate that it will remain a top hacking technique in 2020.
     
  • Cloud Orchestration Attacks: Organizations build workflows to automate and scale cloud-based services. By targeting a weak point in the workflow, attackers can establish a foothold and spread throughout the architecture.

To make matters worse, many organizations are cloud-blind, with limited visibility into their cloud infrastructure. While defenders have become adept at logging and monitoring onsite operations, many are starting from scratch in the cloud. Meanwhile, providers themselves have inconsistent support for logging and monitoring. The result is that most organizations do not have the ability to detect even simple cloud attacks early on, which can lead to serious data breaches. Furthermore, while both customers and cloud providers must share responsibility for preventing data breaches, confusion over who is responsible for the different aspects of security is still common, making cloud hacking a top cybersecurity threat. Check out Chapter 13, "Cloud Breaches," in the Data Breaches book for an in-depth discussion and case studies on cloud data breaches.

2. A Dangerous New Twist on Ransomware

To pay or not to pay? That is the question—and it just got a lot harder to answer with the emergence of ransomware's latest trend: exposure threats.

In a classic ransomware case, criminals lock up an organization's data using strong encryption, and will only release the key if the victim pays up. If you have good backups, you may be able to recover your data without paying. Many organizations also choose not to pay for ethical reasons, refusing to fund criminal operations.

Criminals have seized upon a new tactic: threatening to release the victim's data to the world unless they receive their money ("exposure extortion"). This gives criminals a second opportunity to get their payout, leveraging the victim's fear of a data breach, and all the reputational damage/financial repercussions that go with it.

Screenshot of the Maze gang's web site.
Screenshot of the Maze gang's web site. Image captured in LMG Security's malware lab. Copyright 2020, All rights reserved. Click to view full-sized image.

In December 2019, the Maze ransomware gang created a web site where they released data stolen from victims who did not "pay up." Among these victims was the City of Pensacola, which did not pay the $1 million ransom. In response, the Maze gang released 2 GB of the city's data (10%), stating "We've shown that our intentions are real."

The professional Sodinokibi ransomware gang similarly shifted tactics in December 2019. After hacking a large data center, CyrusOne, the criminals posted the following statement in a forum: "In case of refusal of payment—the data will either be sold to competitors or laid out in open sources. GDPR. Do not want to pay us—pay x10 times more to the government. No problems."

While the concept of exposure extortion is not new, combining it with ransomware is a brand-new twist with potentially far-reaching consequences. Ransomware has become a turnkey operation, with criminals peddling automated commercial toolkits that support scalable, large-scale deployment. The marriage of exposure threats with modern ransomware toolkits raises the specter that data exposure cases could become turnkey as well, leading to data breaches on a massive scale, making this one of the top cybersecurity threats for 2020. For more advice on responding to ransomware and extortion cases, read Chapter 11, "Extortion," in the Data Breaches book.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020