Johannesburg — A NEW cyber 'cold war', fake news around the United States elections and the cyber-attacks on utilities and critical infrastructure are set to be sources of major cyber incidents and technical developments next year.
Check Point Software Technologies Ltd., a leading provider of cyber security solutions globally, has made the predictions.
Targeted ransomware attacks increasing, phishing attacks going beyond email and mobile malware attacks stepping up are the company's technical cyber-security predictions for 2020.
Check Point predicted a so-called cyber cold war will be a new "cold war' and will be conducted in the online world as Western and Eastern powers increasingly separate their technologies and intelligence.
The ongoing trade war between the United States of America (USA) and China as well as the decoupling of the two huge economies, is a clear indicator of this, official said.
It is predicted cyber-attacks will increasingly be used as proxy conflicts between smaller countries, funded and enabled by large nations looking to consolidate and extend their spheres of influence, as seen in the recent cyber operations against Iran, following attacks on Saudi Arabia's oil facilities.
Another major event will be the US elections.
Check Point stated the US election in 2016 saw the beginning of artificial intelligence (AI)-based propagation of fake news.
Political adversaries made huge progress creating special teams that created and spread false stories to undermine support for their opponents.
Checkpoint pointed out candidates can expect that overseas groups have already made and are implementing plans to influence the 2020 elections.
Cyber -attacks on utilities and critical infrastructures are predicted to grow as utilities continue to be a target of cyber-attacks.
This is seen from attacks on US and South African utility companies this year.
Gil Shwed, Check Point's founder and Chief Executive Officer, said societies increasingly relied on seamless always-on connectivity, criminals and nation-state threat actors had even more opportunities to influence the outcomes of political events, or cause massive disruption and damage that put thousands of lives at risk.
Over the past year, Check Point's Threat Cloud blocked nearly 90 billion compromise attempts per day - compared with estimated 6 billion daily searches on Google, he said.
"We can no longer defend ourselves using traditional detection-based security models," Shwed said.
"By the time we detect the threat, the damage has already been done," the executive said.
He proposed that companies utilised security that combines real-time threat prevention, shared intelligence and advanced protections across all networks, cloud and mobile deployments.