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SMSishing and ‘hacks in space’ predicted to rise in 2022

The WatchGuard Threat Lab team predicts how cyber threats will evolve over the course of this year.

user iconReporter
Thu, 06 Jan 2022
SMSishing and ‘hacks in space’ predicted to rise in 2022
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Last year, the WatchGuard team made a variety of predictions including the rise of spear phishing campaigns driven by automation, a revolt over smart device privacy and attacks swarming VPNs and RDPs. As 2021 disappears in the rearview mirror, the WatchGuard team has listed their cyber security predictions for 2022.

Companies increase cyber insurance despite soaring costs
According to a report from S&P Global, cyber insurers’ loss ratio increased for the third consecutive year in 2020 by 25 points, or more than 72 per cent. This resulted in premiums for stand-alone cyber insurance policies to increase 28.6 per cent in 2020 to US$1.62 billion.

As a result, they have greatly increased the cyber security requirements for customers. Not only has the price of insurance increased, but insurers now actively scan and audit the security of clients before providing cyber security-related coverage.


In 2022, if you don’t have the proper protections in place, you may not get cyber insurance at the price you’d like, or at all. Like other regulations and compliance standards, this new insurer focus on security and auditing will drive a new focus for companies to improve defences in 2022.

News of hackers targeting space hits the headlines
With renewed government and private focus on the "Space Race" and recent cyber security research concentration on satellite vulnerabilities, we believe a "hack in space" will hit the headlines in 2022.

Recently, satellite hacking has gained investigative attention from the cyber security community among researchers and at conferences like DEF CON. While satellites might seem out of reach from most threats, researchers have found they can communicate with them using about $300 worth of gear. Furthermore, older satellites may not have focused on modern security controls. Don’t be surprised if we see a space-related hack in the headlines soon.

Spear SMSishing hammers messenger platforms
Text-based phishing, known as SMSishing has increased steadily over the years. Like email social engineering, it started with un-targeted lure messages being spammed to large groups of users, but lately has evolved into more targeted texts that masquerade as messages from someone you know.

In parallel, the platforms we prefer for short text messages have evolved as well. Users, especially professionals, have realised the insecurity of cleartext SMS messages thanks to NIST, various carrier breaches and knowledge of weaknesses in carrier standards like Signaling System 7 (SS7).

Where legitimate users go, malicious cyber criminals follow. As a result, we are starting to see an increase in reports of malicious spear SMSishing-like messages to messenger platforms like WhatsApp.

We expect to see targeted phishing messages over many messaging platforms double in 2022.

[Related: CSIRO, defence industry partner to develop virtual defence work experience program]

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