2020 is a big year for technology. Major cities around the world will use 5G. Merchants (almost) everywhere will accept mobile payments, such as Apple Pay and Google Wallet. And new data analytics will help to reshape the web. And that’s only the beginning of the significant advancements of the new decade.
Unfortunately, cybercriminals have their share of new technologies too. It will put you and your data at new risks. Here are the top emerging cybersecurity threats you need to watch out for in 2020.
1) Zombie Accounts
Who can remember every site they’ve logged into? Among all the social media, content streaming, language-learning, and other apps, it’s easy to lose track. Add one-click social logins through Google and Facebook, and you have a hacker’s dream. All unused accounts are prime targets for cybercriminals.
Hackers use “zombie accounts” in a variety of ways. They may pretend to be you and ask your friends and family for money. Or they can learn enough information to steal your identity.
When you stop using an app, don’t just delete it. Make sure you erase your account and personal data completely. You should also do a regular checkup of any apps to see where you may be still logged in. It helps to remember all the apps you no longer use.
While you’re at it, disable social logins and use unique usernames and passwords instead. Reusing passwords is a threat as old as the internet, but it will still be relevant in 2020.
If cryptojacking isn’t a sign that we live in the future, then what is? Cryptojacking is a form of malware used to mine cryptocurrency on your devices without your knowledge.
If you’re not familiar with cryptocurrency, there are two ways to get some:
- You can buy/exchange cryptocurrency or receive it as a gift.
- You can mine cryptocurrency using your computer and its resources.
Hackers place cryptojacking malware onto your system like they do any other malware or virus. Phishing, email scams, malvertising — you name it. It’s so subtle that you might not even notice it. But it will choke your CPU and internet resources. Thus, one clear sign is an unexplained background activity or lagging network connections.
You can prevent cryptojacking by updating your software as often as possible. Make sure also to perform routine virus and malware scans.
3) Unsafe Browser Extension
Chrome has nearly 200,000 browser extensions. They can do everything from blocking ads to translating websites and much more. But like any app or software, you need to vet them before installing. Unethical developers use browser extensions to log and sell personal data, install malware, or create pop-up ads.
Before adding anything onto your browser, check the background of the extension. App reviews are a good clue. But even if these are solid, you still need to verify permissions. You don’t need to grant them access to everything, only enough to function correctly.
4) Charging Cables Loaded with Malware
It may sound like science fiction, but there are now fake charging cables that give hackers remote access to devices.
These cables look and function as a charging cable should. But after plugging them into a computer, the issues start. After you accept the “trust this computer” warning, it’s open season for hackers to take advantage of you.
Be careful where you buy your cables from. And never use random cables left in public. Make sure to follow the same procedure for USB sticks. These are also used to hack into computers.
5) Dangerous Online Quizzes
Many people enjoy fun quizzes online. Why wouldn’t you want to know “Which Harry Potter character are you?” Online quizzes may seem innocent, but cybercriminals also use them to harvest your data. Advertisers and companies use similar quizzes to build detailed profiles on customers.
Some hackers also use quizzes to access information stored in connected Facebook and social accounts. They may even be bold enough to ask questions like “what was the name of your first pet”. It’s the easiest way to get answers to your account security questions. Unless you already share all that information on your social media, that is.
Also, never give your photo to any quiz. Pictures speak a thousand words. And knowing what you’ll look like in 20 years isn’t worth the risks.
How to Stay Safe Online in 2020
These are only the latest emerging threats for 2020. You still need to watch out for ransomware, keyloggers, malware, and everything else that has plagued the internet for years. Make sure you protect yourself with all the necessary cybersecurity tools.
Always update your software to get the latest security patches. Run antivirus and antimalware software to prevent hackers from infecting your devices. Use VPN to block cybercriminals, advertisers, and ISPs from keeping an eye on you. An antivirus or VPN download only takes a few minutes. But they offer substantial security benefits.
The cybersecurity threats of 2020 are countless. Shield yourself and your data to ensure your safety from any online danger that comes your way.