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Experian Predicts Vaccine Rollout and Remote Working Will Make 2021 a Prosperous Year for Cybercriminals

While organizations and citizens focus on other priorities, hackers will diversify their attacks to potentially include new pandemic warfare and ransomware efforts on families

As society continues to navigate through the ongoing pandemic, hackers are honing in on new targets and new means to access sensitive data. To prepare for 2021, Experian is releasing its eighth annual Data Breach Industry Forecast, which predicts five major threats to watch

The 2021 report addresses unique pandemic scenarios including how the vaccine ecosystem could be an attractive playing field for hackers to wreak havoc attacking providers and the supply chain. Also, increased usage of digital services and home technologies opens the door for identity theft and specifically, more ransomware attacks on vulnerable families.

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Experian’s five data breach predictions for 2021 are:

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  • A mass transition to remote work and increased digital usage provides hackers with new opportunities. While ransomware attacks have been focused on organizations in years past, we expect celebrities and wealthy families to be targets as intruders can easily penetrate personal networks and hold individuals hostage for pay.
  • As the world races to share the COVID-19 vaccine, cybercriminals may attempt to target the rollout ecosystem. We predict that intruders could look to steal information and affect the supply chain globally for monetary gain or simply to create chaos.
  • Contact tracing apps were created to help flatten the COVID-19 curve, but they’ve created a fresh surface to exploit. Many government organizations may not employ sufficient security protection, making these new tools a boon for hackers looking to steal personal data in 2021.
  • High-speed 5G will usher in amazing new possibilities, but with those advancements come increased vulnerabilities. These risks are magnified as billions of connected devices, vehicles and sensors increase the surface area for attack. As a result, cybercriminals will certainly find ways to gain access to 5G networks to cause disruption with our cell phones, autonomous vehicles, health records and more.
  • Cyberattacks on healthcare is nothing new but the rush to adopt digital and telehealth services puts the industry at the top of the list for attacks next year. This dynamic along with a huge influx of patients – which means an influx of personal data – makes healthcare once again a very attractive target for cybercriminals. Patients themselves will also be targets for hackers if they are lax on personal security protocols while using patient portals.

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“As the global community rushed to adapt to our new COVID-19 world, cybersecurity often found itself on the back burner,” said Michael Bruemmer, Vice President of Experian Data Breach Resolution. “We must continue to be vigilant and expect the unexpected in how cybercriminals will attack.”

While data breaches reported this year has decreased from 2019, the number of records and personal information stolen has increased significantly to an all-time high of approximately 36 billion, according to reports. The pandemic specifically was blamed for increases in attacks on banks, phishing attempts and ransomware.

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