Top 10 cyber crime trends to watch for in 2022

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Global cyber crime costs are expected to increase by nearly 15 per cent on a yearly basis over the next four years to reach $10.5 trillion annually by 2025, from $3tn in 2015, California research company Cybersecurity Ventures has said.

Cyber criminals have taken note of successful tactics from this year, including those making headlines tied to ransomware, nation states, social media and the shifting reliance on a remote workforce.

Industry experts expect them to pivot those into next year's campaigns and grow in sophistication, wielding the potential to wreak more havoc across industries.

“Over this past year, we have seen cyber criminals get smarter and quicker at retooling their tactics to follow new bad actor schemes – from ransomware to nation states – and we don’t anticipate that changing in 2022,” Raj Samani, fellow and chief scientist of the combined company formed after the merger of McAfee Enterprise and FireEye, said.

“With the evolving threat landscape and continued impact of the global pandemic, it is crucial that enterprises stay aware of the cyber security trends so that they can be proactive and actionable in protecting their information,” Mr Samani said.

Cyber criminals could weaponise operational technology environments to harm or kill humans in the next four years, the Connecticut-based technology research and consulting company Gartner has said.

The OT is a type of computing and communication system – including both hardware and software – that controls industrial operations, mainly focusing on the physical devices and processes they use. It is used to gather and analyse data in real time, which is further used to monitor a manufacturing unit or to control equipment.

Various industries, such as telecoms and oil and gas, use OTs to ensure different devices work in co-ordination.

Attacks on OT environments have evolved from “immediate process disruption” such as shutting down a plant – for example in the recent Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack that took down the largest fuel pipeline in the US – to compromising the “integrity of industrial environments” with intent to cause physical or reputational harm, Gartner said.

Remote working brings new challenges
Remote working spurred by the Covid-19 pandemic could compound cyber threats in 2022.

Home devices that employees use to access office networks are usually not subject to the same security restrictions as corporate devices. This complicates efforts to control and monitor employees’ digital behaviour, applications and data outside traditional firewalls, industry analysts said.


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