The Evolving Cyber Threats to Expect in 2021

The New Year brings the chance for fresh starts and new opportunities. It represents a time to get refocused – a defining moment to put energy and attention toward the possibility that changes can be made to improve your life and well-being for the better. The hope and optimism this can create is more than welcomed after the wild ride that was 2020. But even though the many of us have many well-intentioned resolutions, cybercriminals are always evolving and adapting to create new opportunities for themselves as well.

Let’s take a look at the evolving cyberthreats to expect in 2021 to help limit your risk of identity theft and keep your year headed in the right direction.

Cyberthreats Related to the Ongoing Pandemic

There is hope in sight for a return to normalcy after a long-fought battle against the many issues the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about. The potential for widespread vaccinations is a huge relief for the health of the public and burdened healthcare system, but the country and many other parts of the world are not quite out of the woods just yet.

Cybercriminals are evolving to take advantage of unique circumstances created by the pandemic, and the vaccination rollout process itself may provide another means for these threat actors to gain access to personal identifying information that can be used to steal individual identities. Look for cyber-attacks on healthcare and pharmaceutical organizations to be on the rise as the year takes shape as there will be a vast amount of data collected to keep track of the vaccination administration system worldwide. Inherently, the need for a speedy rollout for the sake of public health with result in some lack of security with this collected information – providing criminals immense opportunity to infiltrate the systems and networks that store it.

Security Surrounding Remote Work

Another effect the pandemic has placed on our modern workforce is a drastic rise in the sheer number of people now working remotely. This is a trend that is looking likely to steadily increase, even outside of it being thrust upon many companies when stay at home orders were first imposed. And although this trend seems here to stay, security considerations have not quite fully developed to meet the systems and communications needs involved in an expanding remote workforce.

Much of this remote work cybersecurity infrastructure is new and only recently being put in place, presenting challenges that are sure to arise for both individuals and organizations. Companies need to provide remote workers with the tools and tactics necessary to limit the risk of a cybersecurity threat while the depth and scope of necessary safety protocols and practices need to be implemented as well. Threats such as vishing schemes targeting remote working networks were appearing in the later part of 2020, and these are sure to develop into other attempts to gain access to communications and other networks related to remote working situations.

Phishing Scams Will Continue to Change and Adapt

Phishing scams are here to stay and seem readily adaptable to keep luring victims into providing the information cybercriminals need to use to their advantage. This type of fraud is well known at this point, and chances are you have seen one or many of the phony emails, phone calls, or texts that appear to be from a legitimate source but are actually a fake imitation. These scams are still highly effective as cybercriminals are able to create very real looking emails or requests for information that continue to prey on those unaware of their prevalence.

And while the basics behind these attempts remain the same – an effort to trick you into clicking a link or providing personal information – the methods in which this is done have steadily evolved and will continue to do so. The increase of QR codes being used by the public for everything from health information to ordering food online has resulted in another stealthy means for phishing schemes to develop. The risk of malware attached to a QR code download is on the rise as are bogus codes in general that don’t actually link to a product or service and only aim to gather personal information, credit card numbers, or login credentials.

A False Sense of Security Leads to Lapsed Defenses

An overarching issue that also allows threat actors to continue to pounce on unsuspecting victims is a false sense of security that comes from the number of cyber defenses one might already have in place or be aware of. Just because you have multi-factor authentication on an account or stay up to date on the latest ways to limit your risk of identity theft does not make you immune to any of the ongoing threats mentioned here or others that are yet to appear in full.

The demands of effective cybersecurity strategies are endless and although new developments help to thwart existing threats, cybercriminals are quick to develop new infiltration tactics right alongside. Recent large scale hacks on government institutions and the evolution of well-known scams that are still highly effective clearly demonstrate that no individual or organization is completely immune from the potential risks that abound all around our digital world.

The potential for an instance of identity theft or other type of cyber threat is much more than real and simply believing that you have all the necessary safeguards in order to stop this from happening is wishful thinking at best. You also need to have a plan in place to take quick action when a cyberthreat presents itself because the reality is that it’s not a matter of if but when you may become a victim. Vigilance and education are important but so is having the necessary support on your side and a team that can work to effectively restore your identity when you find yourself in the confusion and chaos that can result from any of the evolving threats mentioned here. 

LibertyID provides expert, full service, fully managed identity theft restoration to individuals, couples, extended families* and businesses. LibertyID has a 100% success rate in resolving all forms of identity fraud on behalf of our subscribers.