2019 has seen some significant developments in the industry and also in how financial attackers operate.
In 2020, financially motivated cyber threat actors may start to target investment apps, online financial data processing systems and upcoming cryptocurrencies, along with providing paid access to banks' infrastructures and developing new strains of mobile banking malware based on leaked source code.
These are the key predictions from Kaspersky on the expected development of the threat landscape in the financial sector.
Financial cyber threats are considered to be some of the most dangerous ones, as the impact they bring usually results in direct financial losses for victims. The year 2019 has seen some significant developments in the industry and also in how financial attackers operate. These events allowed Kaspersky researchers to suggest several important potential developments for the financial threat landscape for 2020.
Firstly, fintech is facing a constant cyber threat. Mobile investment apps have become more popular among users around the globe and this trend won't go unnoticed by cybercriminals in 2020. Not all of these apps utilize best security practices, like multi-factor authentication or protection of the app connection, which may give cybercriminals a potential way to target users of such applications
Another development that raises concern is the leaking of source codes of some mobile banking Trojans in the public domain, which was revealed through Kaspersky's research and monitoring of underground forums.
Previous similar cases of malware source code leakage (e.g. Zeus, SpyEye) resulted in an increased number of new variations of these Trojans and this pattern may repeat itself in the coming year.
Paid access to banking infrastructure and ransomware attacks against banks is another threat that needs to be addressed immediately. In 2020, Kaspersky experts expect an increase in the activity of groups specialized in the criminal-to-criminal sale of network access to banks in the African and Asian regions, as well as in Eastern Europe.
Their prime targets are small banks, as well as financial organizations recently bought by big players who are rebuilding their cybersecurity system by the standards of their parent companies. Besides it is expected that the same banks may become victims of targeted ransomware attacks, as banks are among those organizations that are more likely to pay a ransom than accept the loss of data.
In the coming years, more cybercriminal groups will target online payment processing systems. Over the past couple of years, so-called JS-skimming (the method of stealing payment card data from online stores) has gained immense popularity among attackers. Currently, Kaspersky researchers are aware of at least 10 different actors involved in these types of attacks and experts believe that their number will continue to grow during the next year. The most dangerous attacks will be on companies that provide services such as e-commerce as-a-service, which will lead to the compromise of thousands of companies.
"This year has been one of many important developments. Just as we predicted at the end of 2018, it has seen the emergence of new cybercriminal groups, like CopyPaste, a new geography of attacks by Silence group, cybercriminals shifting their focus onto data that helps to bypass antifraud systems in their attacks. Behavioural and biometrics data is on sale on the underground market. Additionally, we expected JS-skimmer base attacks to increase and they did. With 2020 on the horizon, we recommend security teams in potentially affected areas of the finance industry to gear up for new challenges. There is nothing inevitable in potential upcoming threats, it is just important to be properly prepared for them" says Yuriy Namestnikov, a security researcher at Kaspersky.
Along with the financial sector, Kaspersky researchers identified other industries that will face new security-related challenges in the upcoming year. For instance, the healthcare industry must lay emphasis on protecting medical records and connected medical devices, as they are becoming the target of threat actors.
n the corporate sector, security teams should pay more attention to cloud infrastructure and also address the growing risks of insiders accessing their networks. There are groups of criminals specializing in recruiting insiders through various techniques, including blackmail.
Industries that vastly use cellular communication channels, such as telecommunication, are cautioned to be prepared to assess and address risks that will come with wider adoption of 5G, which is expected to start in 2020.