You may remember the fictional concept of a “fire sale” attack from the fourth Die Hard movie, in which a terrorist group planned a coordinated cyber attack against U.S. transportation, financial, and public utilities and communication systems. The terrorists meant to use the fear and confusion caused by the attack to siphon off huge sums of money and disappear without a trace. In 2019, we will see a version of this fictional attack become a reality.
As unlikely as this attack might have seemed in the late 2000s, many modern cyber security incidents suggest that nation-states and terrorist have developed these capabilities. Cyber criminals and nation-states have launched huge distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks that can take down entire countries’ infrastructure and could certainly hamper communications systems. The U.S. government claims foreign actors have already been targeting and probing the defenses of public utility and energy systems. We’ve seen these nation-sponsored attacks targeting financial systems like SWIFT to steal millions. Nation-states have also used social media and other communication systems to poison public perception with fake news.
In summary, each of these individual types of attack are already possible. It’s just a matter of time before some country combines many attacks as a smoke screen for a larger operation.
Can’t wait to see what other emerging threats and security trends might surface next year? Watch a special video edition of The 433 – Security Simplified podcast or read the full list of WatchGuard’s 2019 Security Predictions.