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Large-scale IoT attack coming

From ransomware and phishing to new laws and IoT endpoint attacks, these are some of the cybersecurity events we can expect in 2020, writes Anna Collard, MD of KnowBe4.



KnowBe4 has compiled a list of its top 10 cybersecurity predictions for 2020 from its executive leadership team and array of security awareness advocates from around the world. The topics range from upcoming government legislation to security culture to specific industry verticals being targeted in cyber attacks.

  1. In 2020, federal legislation will be passed that makes any ransomware infection of more than 500 records automatically a data breach with all the resultant disclosure requirements and legal expenses.
  2. We will see further balkanisation of the internet and its services. While countries like China have traditionally maintained its own infrastructure, we have seen political issues spill out to the cyber realm, with companies like Kaspersky and Huawei being banned in the U.S. We will likely see more products and services having to be tailored for local requirements and regulations.
  3. A nation-state will decide to make a point and flex their cyber muscles by initiating large-scale manipulation of everyday consumer IoT products. In addition to the general panic and unease that is caused, other – even more series – impacts will reign across power grids and aspects of critical infrastructure.
  4. Social engineering and unpatched software will remain the top two root causes for successful exploits as they have been for over three decades. Everyone knows they are the top two causes, but most of the world will not treat them like the top threats they are. Instead, they will be mostly ignored or weakly mitigated while most of the world concentrates more resources on things less likely to happen. 
  5. We’ll see more targeted multi-vector attacks emerge. The bad guys are building increasingly more complex attacks to combat the increasing layers of defense. And while defensive measures are in no way sufficient in battling various attacks yet, the bad guys are always looking to increase the efficiency of their attack methods. Combining a multi-attack vector to chain-link attacks is an excellent way to increase efficiency and reduce the cost of an attack, which allows them to scale up even more.
  6. Business email compromise will escalate and cause major disruption to day-to-day activities across the globe, leading to the addition of compulsory new-school security awareness training and testing in business, academia, industry and government. This will, in turn, result in collaboration and sharing of ‘near misses’ related to cyber threats more than ever. At present, there is a lot of caution with sharing such information.
  7. Deepfake technologies will be used to attempt to influence the 2020 elections in the United States and beyond. Fake videos and audio will be released close to the election time in order to discredit candidates or to swing votes. While these will be proven as fakes fairly rapidly, undecided voters will be influenced by the most realistic or believable fakes.
  8. In 2020, the use of the term security culture will continue to increase as more organizations understand what it takes to reduce risk and manage security in their workforce. A combination of training, assessments and a structured process is being implemented to manage the human factors that influence security. 
  9. As energy facilities continue to be targeted for cyber attacks, the need for Operation Technology (OT) departments and Information Technology (IT) to collaboratively solve the cybersecurity issues will be an increased importance for organizations. They will need to collaborate with their own corporate Security Operations Center (SOC) or utilize virtual SOCs to continually monitor their SCADA or DCS networks monitoring network activity and assets connecting and disconnecting from the networks.
  10. Governments such as China, Russia – and as seen more recently with Saudi Arabia’s recruitment of a Twitter employee – will continue to pose counterintelligence (i.e., insider) threats to corporate America and our allies. The media is replete with stories regarding insider threats posed by our acknowledged adversaries and some “uneasy” allies. There is no return on investment to spend millions of dollars in time, money and effort to cyber access to a network when an intelligence service can spend less than $100,000.00 to gain the information they need by recruiting a willing employee with financial (or otherwise) vulnerabilities. Any organization with significant personally identifying information, especially as it relates to people in countries with politically vulnerable populations, should pay special attention to their insider threat education efforts. 


There’s no doubt that it will be interesting to see what the future holds for the cybersecurity industry next year. Most importantly, users should remember to think before they click. Security professionals should remain vigilant and keep these upcoming threats and trends in mind when thinking about the overall security of their organizations in 2020 and beyond.


Second-hand smartphone market booms

The worldwide market for used smartphones is forecast to grow to 332.9 million units, with a market value of $67 billion, in 2023, according to IDC



International Data Corporation (IDC) expects worldwide shipments of used smartphones, inclusive of both officially refurbished and used smartphones, to reach a total of 206.7 million units in 2019. This represents an increase of 17.6% over the 175.8 million units shipped in 2018. A new IDC forecast projects used smartphone shipments will reach 332.9 million units in 2023 with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.6% from 2018 to 2023.

This growth can be attributed to an uptick in demand for used smartphones that offer considerable savings compared with new models. Moreover, OEMs have struggled to produce new models that strike a balance between desirable new features and a price that is seen as reasonable. Looking ahead, IDC expects the deployment of 5G networks and smartphones to impact the used market as smartphone owners begin to trade in their 4G smartphones for the promise of high-performing 5G devices.

Anthony Scarsella, research manager with IDC’s Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, says: “In contrast to the recent declines in the new smartphone market, as well as the forecast for minimal growth in new shipments over the next few years, the used market for smartphones shows no signs of slowing down across all parts of the globe. Refurbished and used devices continue to provide cost-effective alternatives to both consumers and businesses that are looking to save money when purchasing a smartphone. Moreover, the ability for vendors to push more affordable refurbished devices in markets in which they normally would not have a presence is helping these players grow their brand as well as their ecosystem of apps, services, and accessories.”

Worldwide Used Smartphone Shipments (shipments in millions of units)

2018 Market
2023 Market
North America39.022.2%87.226.2%17.4%
Rest of World136.877.8%245.773.8%12.4%

Source: IDC, Worldwide Used Smartphone Forecast, 2019–2023, Dec 2019.

Table Notes: Data is subject to change.
* Forecast projections.

Says Will Stofega, program director, Mobile Phones: “Although drivers such as regulatory compliance and environmental initiatives are still positively impacting the growth in the used market, the importance of cost-saving for new devices will continue to drive growth. Overall, we feel that the ability to use a previously owned device to fund the purchase of either a new or used device will play the most crucial role in the growth of the refurbished phone market. Trade-in combined with the increase in financing plans (EIP) will ultimately be the two main drivers of the refurbished phone market moving forward.”

According to IDC’s taxonomy, a refurbished smartphone is a device that has been used and disposed of at a collection point by its owner. Once the device has been examined and classified as suitable for refurbishment, it is sent off to a facility for reconditioning and is eventually sold via a secondary market channel. A refurbished smartphone is not a “hand me down” or gained as the result of a person-to-person sale or trade.

The IDC report, Worldwide Used Smartphone Forecast, 2019–2023 (Doc #US45726219), provides an overview and five-year forecast of the worldwide refurbished phone market and its expansion and growth by 2023. This study also provides a look at key players and the impact they will have on vendors, carriers, and consumers.

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Customers and ‘super apps’ will shape travel in 2020s



Customers will take far more control of their travel experience in the 2020s, according to a 2020 Trends report released this week by Travelport, a leading technology company serving the global travel industry.

Through independent research with thousands of global travellers – including 500 in South Africa – hundreds of travel professionals and interviews with leaders of some of the world’s biggest travel brands, Travelport uncovered the major forces that will become the technology enablers of travel over the next decade. These include:

Customers in control

Several trends highlight the finding that customers are moving towards self-service options, with 61% of the travellers surveyed in South Africa preferring to hear about travel disruption via digital communications, such as push notifications on an app, mobile chatbots, or instant messaging apps, rather than speaking with a person on the phone. This is especially important when it comes to young travellers under 25, seen as the future business traveler, and managing their high expectations through technology.

Mobile takeover

With the threat of super app domination, online travel agencies must disrupt or risk being disrupted. Contextual messaging across the journey will help. Super app tech giants like WeChat give their users a one-stop shop to communicate, shop online, book travel, bank, find a date, get food delivery, and pay for anything within a single, unified smartphone app. Travel brands that want to deliver holistic mobile customer experiences need to think about how they engage travellers within these super apps as well as in their own mobile channels.

Retail accelerated

In the next year, research shows, we will see an accelerated rate of change in the way travel is retailed and purchased online. This includes wider and more complex multi-content reach, more enriched and comparable offerings, more focus on relevance than magnitude, and an increase in automation that enables customer self-service.

“How customers engage with their travel experience – for instance by interacting with digital ‘bots’ and expecting offers better personalised to their needs – is changing rapidly,” says Adrian Roodt, country manager for Southern Africa at Travelport. “We in the travel industry need to understand and keep pace with these forces to make sure we’re continuing to make the experience of buying and managing travel continually better, for everyone.”

Read the full 2020 Trends report here: 2020 Trends hub.

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