Avast Cybersecurity Experts Predict Covid-19 Vaccination Scams and Deepfake Disinformation Campaigns for 2021
PRAGUE, Dec. 8, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Cybersecurity experts at Avast (LSE:AVST), a global leader in digital security and privacy products, foresee more Covid-19 vaccination scams, abuse of weak home office infrastructures, enterprise VPN infrastructure and providers, and ransomware attacks in 2021. Avast also expects deepfake disinformation campaigns and other malicious AI-generated campaigns to gain more traction. Specifically, on the Android platform, Avast experts predict further adware attacks, fleeceware scams, and stalkerware usage.
Covid-19 vaccination scams and attacks on healthcare and pharma organizations
This year, a number of healthcare institutions in the US, Europe, and Asia were attacked by ransomware, stealing data that in some cases were leaked to the public. Cybercrime groups also initiated espionage attacks on pharmaceutical and clinical research organizations. In 2021, Avast threat intelligence experts anticipate further ransomware, data exfiltration and espionage attacks on healthcare and pharmaceutical sectors.
As many employees will continue to work from home in 2021, there is a high likelihood that cyber attacks on enterprise VPN infrastructure and providers will continue, with the goal of infiltrating business networks with targeted attacks designed to spy on confidential information and steal intellectual property and customer data.
"We expect to see a continuation of ransomware attacks on healthcare institutions and the exfiltration of sensitive data, with attacks specifically targeting pharmaceutical companies and institutions to harvest sensitive customer information for blackmailing and industry espionage. Companies in other sectors will be at risk of falling victim to targeted attacks via their VPN infrastructure and remote desktop applications they may be using to connect employees working from home," said Jakub Kroustek, Threat Labs Team Lead at Avast.
"Individuals, on the other hand, should be wary of scams, specifically around the topic of vaccinations. If people see vaccination offeings circulating on the internet, they need to keep in mind that the sale is likely too good to be true, as vaccinations should be distributed through official sources only. Instead of falling for shady scams, people should trust their local doctors and medical institutions for Covid-19 information and vaccinations."
Deepfakes to play a bigger role in disinformation campaigns
"Deepfakes will likely reach a quality next year where they can be actively used in disinformation campaigns. Conspiracy theories about the coronavirus, such as its alleged spread via 5G, could be reemphasized via deepfake videos, for example wrongly showing politicians as conspirators. The pandemic, the resulting increase in people working from home, and higher reliance on online connectivity as well as the growing economic pressure, combined with uncertainty among people, are likely to feed into the effectiveness of the use of deepfakes to spread disinformation," said Petr Somol, AI Research Director at Avast.
Datasets and knowledge bases for AI-based threats to grow further
Malicious campaigns, targeted attacks, and Advanced Persistent Threats generated using AI techniques are already viable, but to become effective, very extensive datasets and knowledge bases are needed and Avast AI experts anticipate these to be developed in 2021 and beyond.
Adware and stalkerware to thrive further
Since the initial surge of stalkerware during the first wave of the pandemic, the number of global stalkerware attacks has remained high throughout 2020. Stalkerware are apps that are typically installed secretly by a person close to the victim, such as a jealous spouse, to spy on the person by tracking their physical location, monitoring messages and recording phone calls. Avast's mobile threat intelligence experts expect this trend to continue, but do not expect to see a new surge.
"The cybersecurity industry has continued to raise awareness around the issue of stalkerware in 2020 which may help prevent further growth in stalkerware attacks at the end of this year and in 2021 as the authors and operators may be waiting for the hype to die down before they can drive new campaigns. The primary modus operandi for this category of threat is, after all, stealth. There will, however, always be a loyal user base in the stalkerware field," said Ondrej David, Mobile Malware Analysis Team Leader at Avast. "Android and iOS adware, on the other hand, is a low-risk, high-gain business model. Although the security community and the Google Play and Apple App Stores are increasingly fighting against adware, it's usually very hard to detect as ads may not always run immediately after app installation, so a lot more effort needs to go into the field of detecting such unwanted apps."
View original content to download multimedia:http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/avast-cybersecurity-experts-predict-covid-19-vaccination-scams-and-deepfake-disinformation-campaigns-for-2021-301188090.html
Keynote Presentation by Zoom
What is Guided CX?
On Premise Strategies: CBRS and Private LTE