Credit bureau Experian has rolled out the 2020 edition of its annual Data Breach Industry Forecast. The report predicts hackers will increasingly target the political scene and activists using deepfake content and other infamous cyber weapons.
A top prediction on Experian’s list involves phishing, a time-tested vector favored by hackers. Only this time, the agency cautions, we’ll see a spike in the SMS version, called “smishing.”
“Cybercriminals will leverage text-based ‘smishing’ identity theft techniques to target consumers participating in online communities, such as those supporting presidential candidates, with fraudulent messages disguised as fundraising initiatives,” reads the forecast.
Experian tells readers to watch out for telltale signs like misspelled words, poor grammar and requests for personal information such as your social security number, credit card or bank account information.
“A good rule of thumb is to refrain from responding to text messages from unknown senders,” it says.
Another noteworthy projection is that cyber-crooks will begin leveraging deepfake content to help influence political outcomes – i.e. in nation-states with upcoming elections or ongoing political turmoil.
“As this technology comes of age and becomes readily accessible it will increasingly be used by cybercriminals and nation states to foster real disruption – both in financial markets and in politics,” according to the forecast.
Bitdefender supports this prediction. Social media users have no tools yet to determine whether the content they are consuming is doctored. As the technology used to create deepfakes advances rapidly, motivated threat actors will likely increasingly harness its believability to achieve a plethora of end goals, including to sow political discord in targeted nation-states.
Other predictions from Experian include:
- Hackers will use readily available drones to steal consumer data from devices connected to unsecure networks on the streets below.
- Burgeoning sectors, such as cannabis retailers, cryptocurrency entities, or environmental organizations, will be increasingly targeted by hacktivists as a form of protest.
- Identity theft will increase sharply as cyber criminals seek to exploit the convenience of point-of-sale transactions, especially at large venues like concert festivals and sporting events.
Readers can access the full report here. The paper also looks back on Experian’s predictions for 2019 which, it’s worth mentioning, didn’t quite pan out as expected.