watch for cyber threats

Cyber Threats in 2021: What to watch out for

December 2020 was a massive month in cybersecurity. Between SolarWinds, FireEye, and Microsoft, every cyber professional was on edge, and we can expect to see our fair share of notable cyber threats this year as well.

So what can we do about it? Our nation-state grade cyber defense experts pulled their heads together to bring out some predictions for what we can expect to focus on in your cybersecurity strategy on this year.

MSP attacks will be on the rise

Due to the massive and swift jump to cloud thanks to the pandemic, MSPs will most likely be a major threat vector. Corners were cut. Things were missed in order to get up and running. As we saw with SolarWinds, the impact can be massive. There will be more to gain for an attacker to hit a telecom than it would to attack businesses individually. As part of your third party risk management program, taking a good look at your MSPs and how you can reduce risk there is important. You can check out our blog on MSP attacks for some tips you can implement right now.

Supply chain will be continually targeted

While MSP attacks are part of the supply chain, the entire vector is worth mentioning. Attackers have seen how effective this vector can be and will try to replicate it. Since there are several links that can be broken in the supply chain, attackers have multiple attempt entry points. If you’re looking for a good focus for your budget this year, a holistic third party risk assessment is a good idea. One that is tied to your business ideals and your personal risk register, scoring, and appetite. 

Finance, Healthcare, and Pharma will be highlighted targets

Due to the vaccine rollout and the precedent that ransomware can literally be a case of life and death, these industries will be on high alert for attackers. These three industries in particular will need to focus on hardening their cyber defense because there will be more to gain from them moving forward. Finance is always a large target and with the pandemic’-caused economic status we are in, it will be even more appealing for attackers.

Remote Workers will continue to be an easy target

As people continue to be more exhausted from the long hours and emotional toll of the pandemic, it will be easy to take advantage. We have been living in an almost purely digital world for almost a year now, and even the most vigilant of employees can fall victim to bad practices or highly targeted attempts. We just saw an example of this with the Iranian Christmas spear-phishing campaign. These highly sophisticated attempts are more difficult to spot when we are distracted.

The financial impact of a breach will increase again

As pointed out in the IBM Cost of a Breach Report, remote work increased the average cost of a breach by over $130k. As discussed above, remote work isn’t going anywhere any time soon. On top of that, more companies have decided to standardize on remote work moving forward, which can contribute to the increase. Many of these companies have been vocal about the change on social media and other channels, which makes them a public target for this type of attack.

Disinformation will continue to threaten national security

While this might not sound like a cyber threat per se – any media company knows the potential cyber impact of disinformation. Hacktivist groups, nation-state attack groups, and others can absolutely launch a cyber attack based on disinformation. With geopolitical tensions what they are due to the pandemic, this can continue to be a serious cyber defense threat. We saw this firsthand last week with the attack on the Capitol in the U.S. The physical access breach left many machines potentially compromised. 

Changes to Cyber Insurance

The cyber insurance industry is about to go through upheaval as their policies are becoming loss making. Cyber insurance could become more difficult to purchase. While this helps alleviate the relying on insurance problem, other things could go to the wayside to qualify for insurance that have nothing to do with actual cyber defense.

It all comes down to third party risk management

Ultimately, there will be a big focus on third party risk management this year. Most of these are rooted in third party risk – even disinformation. Social media is an example of a non-supply chain version of it. Being mindful of this vector can significantly help reduce risk in your environment.


HolistiCyber enables organizations in their cyber defense challenge, providing them with state-of-the art consultancy, services & solutions to help them proactively and holistically defend themselves in a new era of constantly evolving cyber threats, many of which lead to nation state grade attacks. 

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