Appgate SDP

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Nicole IbarraDecember 16, 2020

2021 Fraud Predictions

Preparing for 2021 after an unpredictable 2020

It goes without saying that it’s been an unpredictable year. COVID-19 prompted a digital transformation that took place with a sense of urgency and completely reshaped the way organizations do business. It also provided fraudsters with the opportunity to carry out new, sophisticated attacks.

Based on trends we’ve seen this year, our subject matter experts across the Appgate organization weighed in and provided some predictions about what we can expect in 2021.

Prediction 1: Artificial Intelligence to be leveraged by fraudsters

Ricardo Elena, Director of Operations at Appgate, foresees that cybercriminals will start to use AI to build phish kits. He predicts that AI algorithms will be leveraged to launch massive phishing campaigns that target end users by understanding their habits and interests across different online platforms. With these AI algorithms, fraudsters have all the information they need to more effectively lure and compromise users.

Prediction 2: P2P fraud affecting banks

Josh Schleicher, Director of Sales Engineering, anticipates a rise in person-to-person payment fraud. According to Josh, “Many of our customers are reporting an increase in the use of P2P transaction channels (such as the popular Zelle) as a way for fraudsters to send money out of a stolen account.” Since these popular payment platforms are currently outside traditional fraud management channels, this creates an opportunity for fraudsters. Given our increased reliance on mobile payment applications, we will see a rise in fraud targeting these platforms.

Prediction 3: Continued use of COVID fear to enable fraud

Josh also predicts that COVID will continue to provide fraudsters with a fruitful avenue to launch targeted cyberattacks. With the continued confusion and fear related to the virus, cybercriminals will launch more attacks via email, mobile, phishing, and malware as long as COVID persists.

Prediction 4: Ransomware to target smaller organizations

According to Beatriz Cleves, Product Manager, ransomware is going to continue targeting organizations, with a noticeable uptick in targets toward small to mid-size businesses. COVID will still be present and most organizations will have a significant remote workforce with access to cloud-based resources. Unfortunately, smaller businesses without sufficient cybersecurity measures in place remain vulnerable. Without the right tools and resources, these smaller organizations may end up having to pay cybercriminals in-order to assure business continuity.

Prediction 5: Phishing to become more sophisticated and targeted

Beatriz also expects phishing to be the most popular method for carrying out cyberattacks since it’s effective and allows fraudsters to cast a wide net. We should anticipate that phishing attacks will become far more targeted and continue to use the pandemic as a way to manipulate users. We’re already seeing extremely sophisticated geo-targeted emails with malicious URLs and this will likely increase.

Prediction 6: A rise in SMSishing

Paul Wilson, Product Manager, anticipates malicious actors will abuse SMS and messaging applications in SMShing (aka smishing) attacks (a form of phishing that targets people through text or SMS message) geared towards social engineering. An attacker can lure end users with an urgent message to click on shortened links via platforms such as WhatsApp that are difficult to defend against since they circumvent most of the traditional security controls.

Prediction 7: A drastic rise in cybersecurity vendors and services

German Patiño, Director of Sales, expects there to be a drastic rise in new cybersecurity providers going into 2021. The increase in these providers is attributed to the digital transformation and shift to remote work that was brought on in 2020. Organizations have prioritized cybersecurity due to increased attacks brought on by the pandemic. With the various vendors to choose from, company leaders will need to evaluate the right solutions and view their provider as a partner in the battle to prevent fraud.

It is always an interesting challenge to make predictions and anyone can make them. One thing is for sure, as long as it is profitable, fraudsters will continue to find better ways to attack.

To protect your business in this high-stakes environment, it is no longer enough to simply keep up with fraud detection and mitigation advancements, you need to stay one step ahead.

These are some important things to consider when crafting a strong anti-fraud strategy in/for 2021:

  • Implement a fraud-prevention solution that harnesses the power of machine learning.
  • Implement a multi-layered solution that looks at threats holistically, not individually.
  • Employ strong, modern multifactor authentication.
  • Ensure your fraud security plan covers threats from inside and outside your perimeter.

Learn more about Appgate’s Fraud Protection solutions here

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