An increase in scams related to cryptocurrency, more data breaches, and frequent identity thefts and frauds are some of the top cybersecurity predictions for 2022 from Palo Alto Network.

According to cyber security firm Palo Alto Networks, in 2021, the impact of ransomware attacks reached an unprecedented scale, posing a threat to thousands of businesses around the world and threatening  their critical infrastructure. And this trend will continue to be observed in 2022 as well.

Here’s a look at Palo Alto Network’s top cybersecurity predictions for 2022.

Rise of scams fuelled by Bitcoin

Cryptocurrency, in particular Bitcoin, will fuel the rise and evolution of the ransomware industry, with larger attacks on important infrastructure, while calls for its regulation will gain traction. The company said in its report that due to its decentralized character, it will be difficult for regulators to track down the hackers.

Bitcoin is a decentralized currency, which means it is not regulated by any government or organisation. Most often, threat actors demand ransomware payments in cryptocurrency because this form of payment provides anonymity for the destination address associated with the ransom demand. Unlike bank accounts, no personally identifiable information is required to obtain a crypto wallet.

“Businesses must concentrate on enhancing their cybersecurity posture and determining their level of preparedness for an attack, as well as conducting exercises to identify any security weaknesses that must be fixed,” the company said, adding that collaboration between cybersecurity providers, cloud providers, and telecommunications providers “will help disrupt successful attacks and impose real costs on attackers.”

Countries’ critical digital infrastructure in the crosshairs

Increased usage of smart devices, will create tonnes of digital data that will double up in 2022. It should be noted the more data we produce, the problematic it becomes in terms of storing the data securely.

According to Palo Alto Networks, organizations need to draw up a strategic approach that will provide complete visibility into the security infrastructure. The company recommends a Zero Trust architecture combined with Artificial Intelligence (AI). A zero trust architecture (ZTA) is an cybersecurity solution designed to prevent data breaches and limit any internal data leakage.

Cyberattacks on essential infrastructure, with confidential and lucrative data, worldwide, are on rise. These attacks have revealed that the implementation of cybersecurity protocols is significantly slower than the rate of digitalization across countries.

With hackers aiming to dent the critical infrastructure, “we need to fastrack improved global policies and regulatory collaboration. Governments and businesses must encourage the creation of safeguards against complex threats, particularly those that target critical infrastructure through supply chain gaps,” the company highlighted.

Phishing will continue to dominate

Phishing emails and scams could evolve by next year. Cybercriminals have now switched their focus from targeting corporate offices to attacking individuals.

To contend with this new reality, enterprises will have to evolve beyond their corporate networks, deploy remote work solutions and bring unified security policy management to remote employees. “Combining security, networking, and digital experience management, SASE solutions will be critical in bringing about both security and operational efficiency,” the company said in a blog post.

Identity frauds will rise

With the rise of open-banking and hyper growth of Fintech, poor programming or security misconfigurations could provide cybercriminals with greater opportunities to carry out identity theft, fraud, and unauthorized data collection.

Palo Alto Networks suggests special focus to be elderly groups, who may be more susceptible to fraud as they are the new users of digital banking platforms.

“Mitigating tomorrow’s threats will require a greater leadership commitment, collaboration, and effective communication to drive a mindset shift to view cybersecurity as a team sport between governments, enterprises, and individuals,” the company added.