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Securing the Future: Cybersecurity Predictions for 2021 – ReadWrite



Otavio Freire

Predictions are always a risky business. Anyone writing this post a year ago could not have seen what was waiting in store in 2020. In cybersecurity, the wholesale shift from the office setting to the virtual workspace has transformed everything, in unforeseen ways. To give just one example: collaboration tools like Slack and Teams have become a serious threat vector, on a scale never seen before.

However, 2021 looks like it should be more predictable. Vaccines will roll out, and the cybersecurity lessons learned this year will continue to prove useful. With this in mind, what can we say about next year in cybersecurity? What trends are we likely to see? What shifts should enterprises be prepared for? Here, I’ve pinpointed three answers to these questions:

  • Cyberattacks will become more personalized, via social engineering
  • Enterprises will stay very paranoid, as cybercrime gets worse and worse
  • The password will finally start to die out as a primary layer of defense

The Increasing Personalization of Cybercrime

Personalization is all the rage in B2C consumer technologies. It is also a tactic increasingly embraced by bad actors, chiefly through social engineering.

The 2020 Trustwave Global Security Report analyzed a trillion security and compromise events. The report concluded that “social engineering reigns supreme in method of compromise.” Moreover, increasingly, social engineering attacks threaten social channels as much as they do email. A report from Verizon revealed that 22% of all data breaches included social attacks as a tactic.

Social engineering is about the personalization of cyberattacks. In 2021, we should expect this personalization to increase.

Brian Honan, CEO of the Irish company, BH Consulting, is an infosecurity thought leader. He had the following to say on this topic:

“In 2021, criminals will look to make their phishing and social engineering attacks much more targeted and personal,” Brian predicts. “This will be the case whether those attacks are launched against individuals or against organizations via key staff. Our social media activity will provide criminals with more ammunition and capabilities to make their attacks seem more convincing and personal.”

To stress: the issue here is not email. As Brian says, “criminals will look at other channels to launch attacks against companies; mainly their social media channels. Personal data leaked online through social media will become weaponized.”

Just look at how the ATM infrastructure of the Chilean banking system was compromised by North Korean hackers (zdnetdotcom). Where did the attack begin? LinkedIn. The attackers carefully selected their victims, and tailored their contact to fit the target. This kind of personalization works, which is why in 2021 it will continue.

It’s Not Paranoia if They’re Really Out to Get You

The increasing personalization of cyberattacks is one of the elements that will make 2021 a paranoid year for enterprises. As Javvad Malik, a Security Awareness Advocate at KnowBe4, puts it:

“In 2021, the default position for most organizations will be full paranoia. Can you trust your email? Your social media feed? Your politicians? Your customers? Your employees? Your corporate devices? The answer will be a resounding no.”

This increasing fear is borne out in the numbers. Gartner predicts that cybersecurity spending will reach $170.4 billion globally by 2022. Spending has already increased dramatically in many countries. In Australia and China, 50 per cent and 47 per cent of companies respectively reported exceeding their cybersecurity budgets.

This paranoia isn’t unwarranted. 2020 was a record year for cybercrime. 53% of respondents to ISACA’s State of Cybersecurity 2020 report expect a cyberattack within 12 months. Cyberattacks are the fastest growing type of crime in the US. Globally, cybercrime damages are expected to reach $6 trillion next year. That’s 57x the damages of 2015.

In short, 2021 will be a year in which enterprises stay very worried. There will be no relaxing of vigilance or wariness. We should all be ready for a paranoid mood to continue to influence the cybersecurity industry at large.

Passwords in Question

For a while now, passwords have felt a bit 1995. The memorization, the clicking on the “I forgot my password” link. But above all, the flimsy security of passwords. Here’s Javvad Malik again:

“2021 will be the tipping point for passwords. With advancements and adoption of FIDO and MFA, we’re going to see fewer new services offering only passwords as a form of authentication.”

Considering the dangers of using passwords, this is no surprise. Poor password behaviour remains one of the leading causes of data breaches (itgovernancedoteu).

Nordpass and partners reveal that people are still as lazy as ever when it comes to formulating passwords; and this goes as much for enterprise employees as your mom. Out of the 275,699,516 passwords relating to 2020 data breaches, only 44% of them were considerably “unique.”

The most popular password according to Nordpass dot com? “123456,” utilized by over 2.5 million users.

In short, the password’s days are numbered, at least as a sole or primary form of defence. We’ve already been seeing an exponential increase in the adoption of Fast Identity Online (FIDO) and multi-factor authentication (MFA). In fact, during FIDO Alliance’s Authenticate 2020 conference, it was revealed that various government units and agencies have acknowledged FIDO standards and are now enforcing them alongside existing digital ID policies.

MFA (multi factor authorization), on the other hand, is considered one of the best practices in cybersecurity nowadays, and is seeing increased adoption within businesses across different industries. 2021 will see both these trends increase.

However, Javvad also predicts an increase in attacks against MFA or passwordless technologies:. “We’ve already seen examples of SIM hijacking to obtain the SMS codes, but this will likely ramp up and we’ll start to see bigger and worse attacks.”

(SIM jacking sees bad actors using social engineering techniques to trick mobile phone providers into allocating a target’s phone number to a new SIM.) The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) have released a Private Industry Notification (PIN) document that details how cybercriminals try to circumvent MFA on their victim’s phones.

However, even though MFA isn’t perfect, it remains a lot better than the humble password! Expect next year to be a year where a heavy minority of services rely on passwords.

Readying Ourselves for 2021

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that the future is always unpredictable. No-one knows for sure what 2021 will bring.

However, I believe the three trends listed here to be pretty firm bets. As we all try to build business agility and business resilience for 2021, we need to do our best to look into our crystal balls.

I hope my fortune-telling here proves useful to you.

Otavio Freire

President, CTO, co-founder

As the President, CTO and Co-Founder of SafeGuard Cyber, Otavio Freire is responsible for the development and continuous innovation of SafeGuard Cyber’s enterprise platform. He has rich experience in social media applications, internet commerce and IT serving the pharmaceutical, financial services, high-tech, and government verticals. Mr. Freire has a BS in Civil Engineering, an MS in Management Information Systems and an MBA from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business, where he currently serves as a visiting executive lecturer.


Amazon Bets Big on OpenAI Competitor Anthropic



iPhone 15 models could be available in India on launch day for the first time

In an effort to remain competitive with Microsoft and Google in the artificial intelligence space and capitalize on generative AI, Amazon will invest up to $4 billion in Anthropic and take a minority ownership position in the AI firm.

Anthropic, which recently released a new AI chatbot called Claude 2, is an OpenAI competitor founded by former research executives from the ChatGPT creator. It is backed by Google and Salesforce Ventures, among others.

Amazon and Anthropic shared that they are forming a strategic collaboration in the generative AI space, with the startup unsurprisingly tapping Amazon Web Services as its primary cloud provider. AWS customers will receive early access to special features for customizing models — such as the ability to build via Amazon Bedrock.

“The agreement is part of a broader collaboration to develop the most reliable and high-performing foundation models in the industry,” the companies said in an official announcement.

AWS will design custom-made semiconductors to train the foundational models — large AI models developed using massive amounts of data — of Anthropic’s AI applications. The semiconductors may compete with Nvidia’s flagship AI-focused graphics processing units.

Amazon’s investment in the Anthropic follows Microsoft’s multi-billion dollar investment in OpenAI in January.

Featured Image Credit: Photo by Karolina Grabowska; Pexels; Thank you!

Adam James

Adam is the Editor-in-Chief of ReadWrite.

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Revolutionary Samsung IoT-Trackable Credit Card



Deanna Ritchie

Samsung has recently introduced a credit card in South Korea with a distinctive feature: it can be tracked using the company’s SmartThings Find service. This creative development in the credit card industry enables users to observe the real-time location of their card through Bluetooth Low Energy technology. This innovative feature provides an additional layer of security for cardholders and simplifies the process of locating misplaced cards. Integrating SmartThings Find service into Samsung’s credit card offering significantly makes everyday payment tools more efficient and connected to modern digital ecosystems. Currently, the card is exclusively available in South Korea, where it has been launched in partnership with KB Kookmin Card. Samsung has not yet revealed any intentions to offer a similar product in the United States.

Integration of Samsung IoT-Trackable with SmartThings Find App

The Internet of Things (IoT) compatible card can be effortlessly integrated into the SmartThings Find app, and similar to Apple’s Find My system, its location can be relayed to users through additional Samsung devices that detect it. This innovative feature aims to reduce the occurrence of lost or misplaced cards, ultimately providing extra convenience for Samsung cardholders. As IoT technology continues to develop and becomes more ingrained in our daily lives, offerings like this card may become increasingly commonplace in the near future. This feature is applicable whether the card is close by or far away in another nation. Samsung states that the card utilizes Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) for this function, rather than ultra-wideband technology — another choice for the SmartThings Find service.

Alternatives for Tracking Essential Items

For those in the United States seeking comparable tracking choices, other options are accessible. One such option is the popular Tile Tracker, which uses Bluetooth technology to locate lost items effectively. Apple has also introduced the AirTag, which combines ultra-wideband and Bluetooth technology to provide a seamless experience for iPhone users tracking their misplaced valuables.

Utilizing Existing Trackers for Wallets

Users can place an Apple AirTag into their wallets or investigate the many Bluetooth trackers available in the market, which come in a variety of shapes and dimensions. These trackers utilize Bluetooth technology to connect to your smartphone, allowing you to locate your wallet if it’s misplaced or lost easily. Whichever option you choose, investing in a wallet tracker can provide peace of mind and protection for your valuable personal items.

Effectiveness of Tracking Devices

The effectiveness of these devices relies on factors such as whether they use ultra-wideband, Bluetooth Low Energy, or both (with ultra-wideband offering precision finding capabilities that Bluetooth Low Energy lacks) and the tracking network the device employs. Additionally, the size of the tracking network plays a crucial role in determining the success rate of locating lost items, as a more extensive network increases the chances of finding them. Other features, such as battery life, durability, and user interface, contribute to these devices’ overall usability and effectiveness.

The Future of IoT in the Credit Card Industry

As technology continues to evolve, the credit card industry is expected to implement IoT-based features further, giving rise to smarter payment tools and services. The integration of location-based technologies, like Samsung’s trackable card, provides an excellent opportunity for financial institutions to enhance security and offer a more connected customer experience. As IoT becomes more prevalent in our daily lives, it will be interesting to witness the burgeoning role of IoT-enabled cards and how they redefine the payment industry.

Samsung’s introduction of an IoT-compatible credit card makes everyday payment tools more efficient and connected to modern digital ecosystems. The integration of credit card tracking capabilities allows financial institutions to enhance security and customer experience. As IoT technology develops, even more innovative features and tools are expected to emerge in the credit card industry, making daily transactions more seamless and secure.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What makes Samsung’s IoT-trackable credit card unique?

Samsung’s IoT-trackable card through Bluetooth Low Energy technology enhances security and simplifies the process of locating misplaced cards.

Is Samsung’s IoT-compatible credit card available outside South Korea?

Currently, the card is exclusively available in South Korea, where it has been launched in partnership with KB Kookmin Card. Samsung has not yet revealed any plans to offer a similar product in the United States or other countries.

How does the card integrate with the SmartThings Find App?

The IoT-compatible card can be easily integrated into the SmartThings Find app, allowing its location to be relayed to users through additional Samsung devices that detect it. The feature aims to reduce lost or misplaced cards, providing extra convenience for Samsung cardholders.

What are some alternative solutions for tracking essential items like credit cards and wallets?

Alternative tracking solutions include the popular Tile tracker, which uses Bluetooth technology to locate lost items, and Apple’s AirTag, which combines ultra-wideband and Bluetooth technology for a seamless tracking experience for iPhone users.

Can existing tracking devices be used for wallets?

Users can place an Apple AirTag into their wallets or explore the many Bluetooth trackers available in the market, which come in various shapes and sizes. These trackers use Bluetooth technology to connect to your smartphone, allowing you to locate your misplaced or lost wallet easily.

What factors affect the effectiveness of tracking devices?

The effectiveness of tracking devices depends on factors like the type of technology used (ultra-wideband, Bluetooth Low Energy, or both), the tracking network employed, the size of the tracking network, and features such as battery life, durability, and user interface.

What does the future of IoT in the credit card industry look like?

The credit card industry is expected to implement IoT-based features further, leading to more innovative payment tools and services. Integrating location-based technologies provides opportunities for financial institutions to enhance security and offer a more connected customer experience. As IoT becomes more widespread, it will be interesting to see the evolving role of IoT-enabled cards and their impact on the payment industry.

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Deanna Ritchie

Managing Editor at ReadWrite

Deanna is the Managing Editor at ReadWrite. Previously she worked as the Editor in Chief for Startup Grind and has over 20+ years of experience in content management and content development.

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Ransomware Negotiation and Ethics: Navigating the Moral Dilemma



Ransomware Negotiation and Ethics: Navigating the Moral Dilemma

Ransomware attacks have developed in recent years from mere data breaches to sophisticated operations. These attacks often involve targeting organizations, and these cyber criminals have gone from a minor speck on the digital security radar — to a widespread and highly advanced type of cybercrime. Nowadays, businesses of all sizes and industries find themselves trapped in a game of digital chess. Their opponents use nefarious tactics to compromise essential and sensitive data, holding said data hostage for exorbitant ransoms, with ransomware attacks increasing 105% in 2021.

The difficult choice of whether to engage with hackers holding critical information hostage has repercussions beyond the digital sphere, challenging the ethical foundations of businesses and institutions. A thorough analysis of the ethics behind choosing to negotiate or not is necessary as businesses struggle with the conflicting demands of protecting their operations and honoring their ethical obligations.

The Case for Negotiation

As organizations confront the imminent threat of data loss, operational disruption, and potential harm to stakeholders that may be caused by ransomware, a compelling argument emerges in favor of engaging in negotiations. Therefore, we must examine the most effective techniques for mitigating the effects of ransomware attacks. Although it may appear counterintuitive to some, negotiation can be a useful strategy for safeguarding the interests of victims and the larger digital ecosystem.

    • Data Protection and Business Continuity: Because a business’s capacity to operate is significantly compromised when it is the target of ransomware, negotiation may provide enterprises access to crucial data and systems again, allowing them to resume operations quickly. Negotiation offers victims the opportunity to recover encrypted data while decreasing the impact on their everyday operations; this can be particularly crucial for medical institutions, emergency services, and other essential services that directly affect the safety and well-being of the general public.
      • Reducing Economic Impact: Organizations may suffer substantial financial losses due to ransomware attacks, including those related to downtime, damage to reputation, and potential legal consequences; such financial ramifications can be limited through negotiation. While it’s crucial to stress the need for cybersecurity precautions, bargaining can act as a backup plan to lessen firms’ burdens if all else fails.
        • Strategic Resource Allocation: The decision to negotiate with cybercriminals is complex and often influenced by resource constraints and cost considerations. Bargaining may be an effective tool for allocating resources, as negotiating for releasing valuable company assets can be less expensive than completely rebuilding systems. Organizations might choose negotiations as a strategic action that balances financial caution with the necessity of resuming operations.

Negotiation May Be a Bad Idea

In the intricate world of ransomware negotiations, a parallel argument emerges that raises questions on the ethics of the decision to engage with cybercriminals. Negotiating with cyber hackers raises a fundamental concern: the potential for organizations to reward criminal behavior inadvertently. Negotiation is a potential means of limiting losses and recovering invaluable data. However, many ethical considerations lie beneath the surface of possible relief, urging both caution and contemplation.

While the need to safeguard operations and stakeholders is of the utmost importance, the underlying ethical implications compel organizations to navigate this terrain with caution and foresight. From the troubling prospect of perpetuating criminal activities to legal liabilities, the decision to negotiate with cybercriminals or not emerges as much more complex as it has repercussions far beyond the immediate crisis.

        • Promises Not Kept: The first challenge in ransomware negotiation lies in the illusion of control. Organizations paying ransoms to retrieve their data may believe they have a guarantee of recovery. However, there is no assurance that cybercriminals will provide or delete stolen data and information. Businesses could pay substantial sums without recourse if the attackers renege on their promises.
        • Legitimizing Criminal Behavior and Enabling a Vicious Cycle: Engaging in ransomware negotiation has broader implications for the cybersecurity landscape. It effectively legitimizes criminal behavior by demonstrating that ransomware attacks can yield financial gain, thus sending a dangerous message that encourages cybercriminals to continue their activities, knowing that victims might give in to their demands.

The potential for negotiation to start a vicious cycle is another of the most contentious aspects of negotiation. By succumbing to the attackers’ demands, organizations unintentionally provide money to criminal enterprises, allowing them to hone their strategies and initiate new campaigns.  This perpetuates a dangerous ecosystem and cycle where cybercriminals are financially rewarded for their illicit activities.

        • Undermining Law Enforcement Efforts: Negotiating ransomware can make it more challenging for law enforcement to identify and apprehend online perpetrators. The encrypted payment methods and anonymous networks utilized for negotiations make it tough for authorities to trace the flow of funds and identify the criminals behind the attacks. This makes it more challenging to hold wrongdoers accountable and break up criminal networks.

Exploring Alternatives– Proactive Measures

Ransomware attacks have evolved into a significant threat, demanding careful consideration of alternative strategies and proactive measures to mitigate their impact. Organizations must adopt a multifaceted approach that includes prevention, preparedness, and recovery rather than solely relying on negotiation. A business may be able to avoid having to decide whether or not to negotiate during a ransomware attack by investing heavily in their security, implementing effective data backup and recovery strategies, maintaining strong endpoint security, and threat intelligence & monitoring to reduce the risk of security breaches, and employee training to reduce the risk of human error.

The role of collaboration between governments, law enforcement, and businesses in preventing and addressing ransomware attacks can not be overstated. Organizations can navigate the aftermath of a ransomware attack with the aid of law enforcement agencies and legal professionals. Investigations are facilitated by reporting incidents to law enforcement, and legal advice can assist organizations in choosing the best course of action while abiding by regulatory requirements.


Ransomware negotiations present a complex ethical landscape where organizations must weigh their responsibilities to stakeholders, societal well-being, and the potential consequences of their decisions. While the moral dilemmas surrounding negotiations persist, businesses must consider both the short-term and long-term impacts of choosing to negotiate or not. As cyberattacks evolve and increase in both magnitude and prevalence, the ethical considerations surrounding ransomware negotiations will continue to challenge organizations, making it essential for them to navigate these complexities with vigilance and integrity.

Negotiation in ransomware situations is a nuanced strategy that must be considered in conjunction with robust cybersecurity measures. Although choosing to negotiate provides a pragmatic approach to address the immediate challenges posed by ransomware attacks, safeguarding data, business continuity, and economic stability, the technological and ethical challenges it presents cannot be ignored. By refraining from negotiation and redirecting efforts toward proactive cybersecurity measures and law enforcement collaboration, organizations can contribute to a more resilient digital landscape and send a clear message that criminal behavior will not be rewarded.

Featured Image Credit: Mikhail Nilov; Pexels; Thank you!

Misan Etchie

Digital Marketer, Content Writer, Search Engine Optimizer, White-hat Link Builder

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