emerging cyber threats

5 Emerging cyber threats to watch in 2020

Throughout 2019, ransomware continued making headlines and it is highly likely that this trend will continue in the coming year. Here are some popular emerging cyber threats for 2020:

Cybersecurity threats of higher-order

Earlier, “top threats” were based on the perspective of targets. For example, ‘ransomware’ or ‘AI malware’ were considered to be the most severe threats. But over time, we have become cyber-mature, and the understanding of what a top threat is has changed.

A threat that is crucial to one industry may not be of the same significance to another. Where ‘ransomware’ tops the threat-list among industries like healthcare or manufacturing, ‘insider’ is a potential cyber threat in the IT or corporate industry. The classification of threats and dealing with higher-order threats in respective industries could be challenging in 2020.

Insider threats

An insider is considered a potential threat vector. Last year 64 percent of total incidents occurred due to insider threats, making it one of the top five cyber threats of 2019. We have seen the adversity that an inadvertent insider can cause to an organization. Even more dangerous incidents occur when insiders pass data to other nations or terrorist groups.

The best example of such insiders comes from the recent incident of Prefecture of Police in central Paris. Michael Harpon, from the police department, who exfiltrated lots of classified information via USB for several years, ended up stabbing six colleagues, killing four. He was working for the intelligence unit of the prefecture from the last 16 years and had military secrecy security clearance. Investigators still cannot decipher who was receiving this information. Cyberthreats leading to national security risk will be among the top threats in 2020.


When hostile governments engage in massive disinformation campaigns, more often than not the outcome is instability during adversaries. 2020, which is going to be a U.S. presidential election year, disinformation of any sort would be the biggest cybersecurity threat. To avoid the risk of such massive attacks, the nation would require a large number of analysts who can eliminate and clarify those disinformation campaigns. The campaigns can also misguide patriotism and make individuals sympathetic to foreign governments. This, in turn, may lead to the development of a radicalized insider.


Having your data online is a threat to privacy. Earlier it was ID cards, bank account details, medical history, etc. which used to be the preferred target of the criminals. Now, due to the digitalization of government processes, personally identifiable information (PII) can be largely found dumped in government and commercial businesses. The information that we choose to offer and the one that has been collected for various reasons adds to the database. If any of this information is stolen, it becomes easy for the attackers to steal our identity and gain access to our personal IT assets or business networks. The threat of privacy will continue to be on the top in 2020.

In a gist, the biggest threat for the year 2020 is not malware or ransomware attacks. The risks are expected to be from high-order campaigns allowing access to the attackers to commit crime quickly.

Beware of Smishing rather phishing

In the coming year, due to online interactions, attackers may switch from traditional email phishing to interactive platforms like WhatsApp, Slack, LinkedIn, Signal, etc. which are commonly used as an alternative to email.

Technology upgrades

In spite of growing sophistication in the cyberattacks, technology up-gradation will continue at its pace and sometimes, more rapidly.

Moving to 5G

The advent of 5G will definitely increase the speed and which would again demand more security. The deployment of 5G may reveal more security issues and accordingly, it has to be dealt with.

Supply chain security

As earlier, the security issue of the supply chain may continue to prevail due to the custody of equipment and underlying components falls under more scrutiny.


Something cannot be ignored in 2020 is “IoT”. The introduction of smart devices at home and the workplace will continue to throw new challenges to our data security.

Security tools to be prioritized

In the big picture, the particular attack is not expected to be a real threat in 2020. It is the unwillingness of companies to adopt or improve security tools and not equipped to counter new threats that can be a major threat. Having more advanced tools in the absence of integration can also be a severe threat to any business.

CTIA for future prospects

Certified Threat Intelligence Analyst program has been doing a great roundabout among security threat analysts to learn and acquire skills in identifying, analyzing and combating various threats. As we are entering a year that is expected to gift us a completely new form of cyber threats, the skills of threat analysts will be definitely questioned. C|TIA is a method-driven program that uses a holistic approach, covering concepts from planning to building an effective threat report, when used properly, can secure organizations from future threats. The program addresses all the stages involved in the threat intelligence life cycle.

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