INTERNET security firm Kaspersky sees cyberattacks increasing in 2020, particularly in regions situated along trade routes between Asia and Europe, as political conflicts turn to the cyber environment.

In its security bulletin for 2020 published on Nov. 20, Kaspersky said real-world tensions and conflicts can now be extended to the cyberworld.

“We have seen numerous examples. Consider, for example, accusations of Russian interference in US elections and fears about a possible reboot of this in the run-up to the 2020 elections. We’ve seen it in the ‘naming-and-shaming’ of alleged Chinese hackers in US indictments. The widespread use of mobile implants to surveil ‘persons of interest’ is another example,” it explained.

With this trend, Kaspersky said there can be a growth in political espionage with governments seeking to “secure their interests” both domestically and globally, which means that there would be surveillance of activities of “undesirable” individuals in the country and even abroad.

“This could result in new attacks in regions that lie along trade routes between Asia and Europe, including Turkey, East and South Europe and East Africa,” the report said further.

Kaspersky also expects more sophisticated methods of attacks to take place next year.

It said attackers will likely “exfiltrate data with non-conventional methods, such as using signaling data or Wi-Fi/4G, especially when using physical implants.”

Kaspersky added it is “possible” that in the coming months, “we will start discovering more UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) malware and infections as our ability to see such systems is slowly improving.”

As for the mobile attacks, Kaspersky said: “There are no good reasons to think this will stop any time soon. However, due to the increased attention given to this subject by the security community, we believe the number of attacks being identified and analyzed in detail will also increase.”

On the abuse of personal information, the report said: “We can see the danger in what could be considered especially sensitive leaks, for instance when it comes to biometric data.”

“Also, widely discussed deepfakes are providing the technology to make such attacks a possibility, especially when combining this with less obvious attack vectors such as video and audio. We should not forget how this can be automated, and how AI can help with the profiling and creation of such scams,” it added. — Arjay L. Balinbin