Ransomware gangs have become bolder than ever before and attackers continue to target the industries where they can make the most impact. 2021 even witnessed the first death attributed to ransomware – a worst case scenario that can and must be prevented in the coming year. So, with attackers continuing to up the ante, what developments should we anticipate and be prepared for in 2022? Here’s my take on what’s to come:
1. Ransomware Gangs Will Rival Enterprises in Complexity
In the past year, we’ve already seen ransomware gangs morph into savvy businesses with sophisticated organizational structures, with one going so far as to create a fake company to recruit talent. In 2022, we’ll see this trend continue to pick up steam, with greater coordination between gangs, double extortion evolving to triple extortion and short selling schemes skyrocketing.
2. Companies Who Pay Ransoms Will Pay in Other Ways
While many companies hit with ransomware opt to pay up to quickly resolve the situation and get back to business, they’ll find themselves paying in other ways when it comes to the court of public opinion. Consumer trust of organizations that pay the ransom will continue to erode and lawsuits will abound as organizations are thrown under the bus for not doing enough to prevent data exfiltration.
3. Our Food Supply Will Be Compromised
From the recent cyber incident knocking dairy giant Schreiber Foods offline to the attack on meat giant JBS, the threat to our food supply chain is dire looking ahead to 2022. As cyber adversaries continue to focus on making the biggest impact by affecting the most people, the food and agriculture industries will remain an attractive target, with a successful attack crippling our food supply likely in the coming year.
4. Cyber Insurance Providers & Security Vendors Will Join Forces
With mandatory reporting now in place and a move toward it becoming illegal to pay out ransoms, cyber insurance providers will need to rethink their business models and will likely partner with security vendors to build a more lucrative sales model.
5. Africa & SE Asia Will Become Cyber Contenders
We’ve seen a vast majority of cyber attacks from China and Russia, and while these adversaries will continue to dominate in the cyber realm, the coming year will see new up and coming threat actors from Southeast Asia and Africa. As cyber criminals look to find cheaper labor and technical expertise, we’ll see activity pick up in these regions in 2022 and beyond.
While in many ways this past year marked more of the same when it comes to security, 2021 was a pivotal year as we looked to adjust to and embrace the new normal in the wake of COVID-19. The lines between our personal and professional lives have become nearly nonexistent, opening organizations across industries to a host of security risks. While I hope 2022 will bring brighter skies and less attacks, that’s unlikely to be the case, and organizations should be prepared for the inevitable. If there’s one thing we know for sure, it’s that data will continue to be our most valuable asset, leaving it vulnerable to attackers and putting a premium on solutions that prevent data exfiltration.
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