We live in the 4.0 industrial era, which means that we are relying on technology more than ever. Industry 4.0 is all about the automation trends and data exchange, including the Internet of Things (IoT), the Industrial Internet of things (IIoT), cloud computing, Artificial Intelligence (AI), etc. We are already on the verge of Industry 5.0, which involves smart machines and robots that help humans work more intelligently.

Technology has grown in leaps and bounds, with most people preferring to do most things online, from shopping to banking. These technological advancements, in turn, have attracted more complex cybercrimes than those we witnessed a decade ago. Trojans, viruses, and malware have evolved, such that where an anti-virus was enough, it no longer is, and your devices need more protection.

Some of the cyber-threats facing the public in 2020 include:

Biggest Cyber Threats of 2020

1. Ransomware

Ransomware is a malware injected into your device by hackers, who ‘kidnap,’ and hold it at ransom, demanding payment in exchange for ‘releasing’ your data. Ransomware encrypts your data or device, making it inaccessible unless you get the decryption key.

Untraceable cryptocurrency is the preferred payment mode for hackers since they know their chances of getting caught are slim. The hackers might demand either Bitcoin, Ethereum, or other forms of cryptocurrency. The tricky part about paying the ransom is that you are 50/50 about the attackers keeping their end of the bargain.

A 2020 example of ransomware is Ryuk, which is spread via malicious emails, which contain malicious attachments and links. The ransom demanded can go over $300,000, which makes Ryuk among the most expensive ransomware. In 2020, EMCOR Group, an industrial and engineering construction company and a legal services company called Epiq Global suffered from Ryuk attacks.

2. Crypto-jacking

When cryptocurrencies became popular in the early 2000s, crypto mining became widespread. Cryptojacking is illegally using someone else’s computer to mine for cryptocurrency. The hacker tricks the victims into clicking on malicious email links, thus launching the crypto-mining code on their browsers.

Attackers may also infect websites with JS (JavaScript) codes that start executing as soon as they enter the victims’ browsers. The code covertly runs in the background, and the victim will never know, except he/she will notice slow execution and performance in the targeted devices.

3. AI-Enhanced cyber threats

At the rate technology is advancing, hacking will soon be fool-proofed by using AI-enhancement, which will give the hackers an almost 99% success rate. AI-driven attacks will quickly be made using automation, which will work well in favor of the human attackers. AI needs no sleep, breaks, or food. AI will enable the cyber-criminals to customize the cyber-attacks and steal data from different sources, allowing them to identify their would-be victims.

4. Phishing

Phishing is one of the earliest forms of cyber-threats, and criminals use it via email attachments and links. The hackers send you an innocuous email, which seems to originate from a trusted source like a financial institution or even one of your friends. The minute you click on that seemingly innocent link or download the attachment, it redirects you to a hackers’ proxy website. This site prompts you for personal details such as usernames and passwords, which are then used to hack your other accounts.

5. Machine-learning poisoning

Machines learn from the data we feed them. Machine learning poisoning is providing machine algorithms with malicious or misleading data to make poor decisions based on this data.

A good example of machine learning is Alexa and Siri from Amazon and Apple, respectively. If fed with the wrong data, they are likely to make wrong decisions based on that information.

How to Keep Cyber-threats at bay

While anti-virus is a useful must-have tool in 2020, you cannot afford to use it as a stand-alone protection. Here are some of the ways you can keep your devices safe and prevent hacking.

1. Install a VPN

A VPN or Virtual Private Network is an excellent tool to have in 2020. VPN secures your devices from hackers and spying eyes via its military-grade encryption. This tool masks your IP address and physical location by allocating you with a virtual place, making it hard for anyone to gauge where you are. If you continuously use public and unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots, a VPN comes in handy in preventing anyone from intercepting your data in transit.

2. Vulnerability Scanner

A vulnerability scanner is another excellent security tool to install in your devices. The scanner inspects your entire network and all your devices for vulnerabilities that hackers might take advantage of. The scanner then gives you a prediction on whether your vulnerability countermeasures are effective or not.

3. Email Security

Email security protects your email and its contents entirely, shielding you from unauthorized access by malicious individuals. Most email providers provide security measures that protect and secure all their clients’ accounts from these malicious actors. These measures include bolstering their email servers with mechanisms that control access, encrypting all email content, sending and receiving strong and unhackable passwords, anti-spam software, and firewalls.

4. Anti-Spyware and anti-malware software

Spyware snoops on your online activities to see what you are typing on your devices, such as usernames, passwords, or credit card details. An anti-spyware detects and quickly removes such threats like key-logging tools and password decoders. Anti-malware software also quickly acts to eliminate malware risks in your device via email links and attachments.

5. Use password managers

Most of the time, people are hacked because of using weak passwords. If you have trouble remembering your passwords, invest in password managers, which generates strong, unique, and random passwords impossible to hack. Most hackers use a technique called a brute force to hack passwords. This technique guesses millions of passwords until they hit the right one.

6. Firewalls

Firewalls prevent unauthorized access to your private network. Any messages you send or receive pass through a firewall, which examines them and blocks those that look suspicious. However, skilled hackers can bypass firewalls, and you need to activate the firewall and use it alongside other security tools like anti-viruses and anti-malware.

7. Update Software

Most people typically ignore software updates when they pop up on screens. Updating your software helps to patch security flaws and eliminate newly discovered bugs and vulnerabilities. Once a vulnerability is found and fixed, the developers usually release an update and make public the security flaw found. If you have not updated your software, a hacker may very well use the now available vulnerability against you.


Securing your devices might sound like a cliché. You think you are immune, and nobody is interested in hacking into your device. You could not be more wrong. Hackers do not care whose device they hack into. Their interest is data, regardless of whom it belongs to.

Information is worth a lot on the dark web, and you might easily find yourself as an identity theft victim. Secure your devices using all means possible. Remember, hackers, keep upping their game. You cannot also afford to slack; otherwise, you will be a hacking victim of your own doing.


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