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Three new forms of cyberattack to be worried about in 2022

Are we heading towards a new fertile hunting ground for scammers?

File photo: In the past year over 500 people in Taiwan have been swindled by online scams. — File photo: © AFP
File photo: In the past year over 500 people in Taiwan have been swindled by online scams. — File photo: © AFP

One of the trends of concern for 2022 is likely to be based around a surge in so-termed ‘pump and dump’ cryptocurrency scams (a form of securities fraud that involves artificially inflating the price of an owned stock through false and misleading positive claims). To add to these there are likely to be more AI-generated threats, employee vulnerabilities, COVID-19 related attacks and the growing sophistication of brand impersonation.

To gain an insight into the core risk areas, Digital Journal contacted three experts at the firm Vade.

Compensation scams

According to Damien Riquet, Research Engineer, Vade “Compensation scams will ride the coattails of the pandemic”. Riquet tells Digital Journal “As we look ahead to 2022, we can expect more scams related to COVID-19 and its impact.”

This is a consequence of the changes that have taken place across the workforce. Riquet says: “With a lot of the workforce working remotely, isolated employees will be a big target for cybercriminals with more targeted scams hitting these remote workers.”

This will lead to a new fertile hunting ground for scammers, as Riquet explains: “To build on that, it is likely we will see ‘compensation scams’ targeting employees with a message such as, ‘if you are experiencing side effects due to a vaccine, you are eligible to compensation.”

AI-produced threats

With AI-generated threats, Adrien Gendre, Chief Product Officer, Vade, says we should expect cybercriminals to “leverage AI-generated email threats especially in targeted attacks.”

This is a consequence of increased automation, explains Gendre: “We are currently seeing threats being created manually, but with improved technologies available to mass-produce messaging for email threats based on what’s trending in the news or what is being mentioned in a company’s social accounts, the potential to target their victims is even greater.”

His warning to businesses is that: “This could be a game-changer in the way attacks are being built and would put having an AI Response as a must-have in your cybersecurity toolbox.”

Pump & dump of cryptocurrency

With the third risk area, Gauthier Saint, Product Manager, Vade, says that this year has already produced signs of the risks in store. He recounts: “In September of 2021, there was a large Pump & Dump campaign promoting the NEAR Protocol cryptocurrency.”

This was not the only example: “In addition, other campaigns have been spotted to promote GALA Coin and HBAR cryptocurrencies. It is likely that we will see more Pump & Dump campaigns promoting cryptocurrencies in 2022.”

Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

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