In November 2019, we published our annual Booz Allen Cyber Threat Trends Outlook, projecting 9 ways threat actors would make waves in 2020. From attacking satellites to election interference, we made a few bold predictions. Here’s a quick recap of the threat landscape and our forecast:
Digital Elections Interference
- Projection: An expanding number of threat actors—both state-sponsored and non-state groups—will adopt the tactics demonstrated in previous influence operations to target campaigns in 2020.
- Outcome: As recently profiled in the New York Times, this is coming to fruition as Russia aims to exploit various election vulnerabilities.
Cyber Operations Carry Increasing Risk of Conventional Military Response
- Projection: As non-state actors engaged in regional conflict increasingly turn to cyber operations as a means of asymmetric warfare, their operators and infrastructure will likely rise in priority as a target for conventional military strikes.
- Outcome: This was evidenced during the January 2020 Iran Crisis, in which cyber operations were used as an overt method of asymmetric warfare.
Nation-States Poised to Interfere in 2020 Olympics
- Projection: Nation-states may use their cyber capabilities to disrupt the 2020 Olympic games.
- Outcome: Although the Olympics were cancelled due to the pandemic, the Cyber Threat Alliance’s 2020 Summer Olympics Threat Assessment confirms the most concerning threats identified in 2020 were possible cyber attacks and disinformation campaigns conducted by nation-state actors.
Malware Takes Flight—Drones as an Initial Network Infection Vector
- Projection: Resourceful network intruders may see an opportunity to create a new category of infection vector by leveraging drones’ proximity to homes and businesses to turn the machines into a jumping-on point to networks and systems.
- Outcome: A recent article detailing how drones can be used to spy on networks, capture data, and block communications also sheds light on how drones are now recognized as network infectors and a threat to cybersecurity as a whole.
Cybercrime Hits the Highway
- Projection: The rapidly increasing body of data generated by automobiles is likely to drive cybercriminals to specialize in targeting vehicle-borne systems.
- Outcome: The Wall Street Journal recently published an article detailing the U.N.’s strategy to safeguard and protect vehicles from hackers. An agreement adopted last month by 53 countries (not including the U.S.) requires that vehicles are built with cybersecurity protections before they go on sale. Similarly, by 2030, cybersecurity spending by the auto industry is forecast to reach $9.7 billion globally.
As the cyber threat landscape continues to evolve at a seemingly impossible pace, you can expect Booz Allen to continue to provide valuable insights needed to stay ahead of the threat and keep your organization secure.
Discover emerging cyber threats to watch for in the coming year.