2021 Cybersecurity Outlook

If 2020 taught us anything, it is the importance of preparing for anything. In the span of a few weeks, our economy, education systems, and lifestyles were altered as never before or could have imagined. Companies, employees and students weren’t the only ones to adapt to the paradigm shift, cybercriminals took advantage of the disruption and increased the number and sophistication of attacks. In fact, research from Cybersecurity Ventures, predicts that cyberattacks will cost the global economy $6,000,000,000,000 (yes, trillion) annually by the end of this year.

To help prepare for fraudulent activity in 2021, Experian’s Future of Fraud Forecast highlights five fraud threats businesses should be aware of this year.

Frankenstein IDs

Synthetic identity fraud – when a fraudster uses a combination of real and fake information to create an entirely new identity – is currently the fastest growing type of financial crime. The progressive uptick in synthetic identity fraud is likely due to multiple factors, including data breaches, dark web data access and the competitive lending landscape. As methods for fraud

detection continue to mature, Experian expects fraudsters to use fake faces for biometric verification. These “Frankenstein faces” will use AI to combine facial characteristics from different people to form a new identity, creating a challenge for businesses relying on facial recognition technology as a significant part of their fraud prevention strategy.

“Too Good to Be True” COVID Solutions

With the distribution of vaccines underway and wider availability of rapid COVID-19 testing, Experian expects that fraudsters will continue to find opportunities to capitalize on anxious and vulnerable consumers and businesses. Everyone needs to remain vigilant against fraudsters using the promise of at-home test kits, vaccines and treatments as means for sophisticated phishing attacks, telemarketing fraud and social engineering schemes. Visit FTC to view a list of recent attacks.

Stimulus Fraud Activity, Round Two

For Americans suddenly out of work or struggling with the financial fallout from the pandemic, 2020’s government-issued stimulus funds were a welcome relief, but also an easy target for fraudsters to commit scams. Experian predicts fraudsters will take advantage of additional stimulus funding by using stolen data from consumers to intercept stimulus or unemployment payments.

Say ‘Hello’ to Constant Automated Attacks Once the stimulus fraud attacks run their course, Experian predicts hackers will increasingly turn to automated methods, including script creation (using fraudulent information to automate account creation) and credential stuffing (using stolen data from a breach to take over a user’s other accounts) to make cyberattacks and account takeovers easier and more scalable than ever before. With billions of records exposed in the U.S. due to data breaches annually, this type of fraud will prosper in 2021 and beyond until the industry moves away from its reliance on usernames and passwords.

Survival of the Fittest for Small Businesses

As a result of COVID-19, businesses were left with no choice but to quickly shift to digital to meet the needs of consumers, and some were more prepared than others. In 2020, consumers were willing to give businesses time to adjust to the new normal, but in 2021 their expectations are higher. Experian predicts businesses with lackluster fraud prevention tools and insufficient online security technology will suffer large financial losses in 2021 and beyond. It’s important to remain aware of the various methods bad actors use to take advantage of your business. We compiled “best practices’ the succinctly help mitigate risk. Read our articles for cybersecurity best practices and tips on spotting and protecting your company from ransomware attacks.

Our team is constantly testing to identify the latest security challenges, changes and best practices to keep you safe and informed. We are always ready to assist you. Contact us.

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