Biggest Cybersecurity Threats in 2021

The year 2020 has been a rollercoaster for everyone. In addition to everything going on, a host of new cybersecurity threats have emerged. 

These evolving threats have put the cybersecurity industry on high alert. The latest cyberattacks involve malware, machine learning, artificial intelligence, phishing, cryptocurrency, and so on. 

They have put data and assets of companies, governments, and individuals at high risk. The shortage of cybersecurity experts and professionals has left the industry in a difficult situation. With the stakes being higher than ever before, it is crucial that everyone is aware of the latest threats. 

According to Cybersecurity Ventures, it is estimated that damages due to cybercrime will hit $6 trillion every year by 2021. To inform you about what to expect, the most significant cybersecurity threats in 2020 are mentioned below.

1. More Sophisticated Phishing

Phishing attacks which involve careful targeting through digital messages to fool people into clicking on the link can lead to them exposing sensitive data and installing malware are becoming a lot more sophisticated. 

As employees in most organizations are becoming more aware of the dangers posed by email fishing or when they click on suspicious links, hackers are increasing their effort by utilizing machine learning to quickly craft as well as distribute persuasive fake messages with a view to convince the recipient to unwittingly compromise the system and network of their organization. 

These attacks allow hackers to not only steal user login details but also credit card credentials along with other vital financial information.

2. Superior Ransomware Strategies

Besides better phishing, ransomware strategies have evolved significantly. Victims of ransomware attacks suffer from billions of dollars in loss every year. 

Hackers deploy technologies which enable them to kidnap the entire databases of organizations and individuals and hold all their information as ransom. 

Ransomware attacks are expected to increase with the rise of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin which allow ransom demands to be made anonymously.   

3. Cryptojacking

Cryptocurrencies have come a long way. They have become more popular than ever before. It has led to a new trend known as cryptojacking which involves cybercriminals hijacking the work or home computers of third parties to mine for cryptocurrency.

Since mining for cryptocurrency requires a great deal of computer processing power, hackers have started to piggyback on other people’s systems. When systems have been cryptojacked at the workplace, they cause serious performance issues which can prove costly.

4. Cyber-Physical Attacks

The technology which has allowed us to computerize and modernize crucial infrastructure is increasingly at risk. There is an ongoing threat of hacks targeting water treatment facilities, transportation systems, and electrical grids which increases vulnerability moving forward.   

5. State-Sponsored Attacks

Rather than just worrying about hackers profiting from stealing data and information from individuals and corporations, there is also a risk of entire nation states using their cyber capabilities to infiltrate other governments and attacking critical infrastructure. 

Not only are individuals involved in cybercrime today but also governments who are using state-sponsored attacks to gain access to critical data.  

6. IoT Attacks

The Internet of Things has revolutionized our lives completely. With the number of devices being connected on the rise, there is a risk of IoT attacks. 

Devices like laptops, tablets, webcams, routers, household appliances, medical devices, smart watches, manufacturing equipment, home security systems, and automobiles have become connected. 

Although connected devices have made our lives a whole lot easier, there is a greater risk of cyber infections and invasions. 

Once controlled, IoT devices can easily cause havoc, lock down essential equipment, and overload networks. 

7. Smart Medical Devices & Electronic Medical Records (EMRs)

One of the industries that have adopted technology at a large scale is the healthcare industry. It has experienced a major evolution. 

More patient medical records have moved online which has provided tremendous benefits in terms of availability of smart medical devices. But, at the same time, there are many concerns regarding cybersecurity, safety, and privacy threats. 

It has put patient data at great risk. Even more concerning is the fact that hackers can directly connect to patients by remotely compromising the device they use.

Attackers can increase or decrease dosage, disable vital sign monitoring, and send electrical signals to patients. 

8. Third Parties (Partners, Contractors, Vendors)

Third parties like contractors and vendors also pose a huge threat to corporations. This is especially true for most of the organizations that do not have a dedicated team or secure system in place to manage third-party staff. 

The risk is very high as third parties go undetected and are in a position to easily compromise the network or system of the organization. If their system has been infiltrated, hackers will be able to try and hack the infrastructure of others.

9. Connected Cars & Semi-Autonomous Vehicles

Since we are heading towards a driverless future, cars being more connected than ever before. Onboard sensors are used by connected cars to optimize the comfort of passengers and overall operations. This is done through smartphone integration. 

With technology evolving, connected cars are becoming more prevalent. Studies reveal that close to 90 percent of all new cars would be connected to the internet. 

This offers new opportunities to hackers to exploit vulnerabilities in insecure systems. It allows them to not only steal sensitive data but also place drivers and passengers in danger. 

Besides just safety concerns, connected cars also pose serious privacy concerns. The year 2020 will see an increase in the number of connected cars and also the severity of system vulnerabilities detected. 

It is expected to occur at a rapid rate as manufacturers are rushing to market the latest high-tech automobiles.

10. Social Engineering

As mentioned in the beginning of this post, hackers are continuously becoming more sophisticated in terms of technology and approach used. For those of you that do not know who social engineers are, they are hackers who exploit human psychology. 

It is a serious issue since it is weakness found everywhere. Attackers are using a variety of media, including social media and phone calls to trick people into providing sensitive information. 

This has put everyone at greater risk of becoming another victim of a cyber attack.

11. Severe Shortage of Cybersecurity Professionals

Finally, the cybercrime epidemic has been on the rise over the past few years due to the fact that there is a severe shortage of cybersecurity professionals. 

Companies and governments are struggling to find qualified professionals to hire in order to safeguard their infrastructure. 

It is a trend that is only likely to continue after 2020 as market research reveals that there are around one million unfilled positions worldwide which could increase to 3.5 million by 2021.  

A smart digital workforce is integral to combating cyberattacks. With more sophisticated cybersecurity threats propping up, the severe shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals has to be filled. 

It is due to this reason that the University of San Diego has even launched Master’s degree programs to train students to tackle cybercrime. 


Once you have gone over this post, you will know about the top cybersecurity threats in 2020. With the world going completely online, cybercriminals have it a lot easier now which is why it is crucial to be prepared and invest in data security.

Related Articles

Get inTouch