Nuclear ransomware 3.0, new malware among KnowBe4’s predictions for 2022

A trend that is currently building for the future on the side of the bad actor is that ransomware gangs are morphing into “everything gangs.” Instead of just doing ransomware and data exfiltration, they are doing crypto mining, botnet creation, and (distributed denial of service) DDoS attacks, among others.

These are some of the predictions by KnowBe4’s team of cybersecurity experts. KnowBe4 is a provider of the world’s largest security awareness training and simulated phishing platform.

“In many ways, it seems as if things are getting worse for cybersecurity professionals who are trying their best to protect their organizations,” said Stu Sjouwerman, CEO, KnowBe4. “But I think we are starting to see more of a focus on the human element, including human behavior, of cybersecurity protection measures. This is a positive shift in direction because people can implement all of the technical tools and controls in the world, but if they do not focus their efforts on the human layer of security, they are going to run into challenges. At the end of the day, strong security culture is what truly matters and what we will see organizations focused on as we move into 2022.”

KnowBe4 offers no-cost cybersecurity resource kits to bolster defense vs attacks
KnowBe4 research finds 24% of employees risk leakage of corporate information

The security experts also see a new dangerous and persistent metamorphic malware family called “Tardigrade,” which is a new strain of Windows malware. It can constantly adapt to avoid detection and was first found targeting the biotech industry, including the infrastructure behind vaccine manufacturing. This “metamorphic” ability prevents the malware from leaving a consistent signature behind, making it very hard for programs to spot. It contains the sneaky ability to spread both via phishing emails and USB devices.

Virtually Pwned

Meta, the brand formerly known as Facebook, will entice the masses to join the Metaverse. This will spawn a rush to establish dominance in the virtual world. As a result, hackers will also be drawn into this world, and virtual attacks against both individuals and organizations are expected.

“We will see an explosion of bad things happen to people and resources in the virtual world — virtual looting, virtual theft, account takeovers, and more creative criminal exploits,” KnowBe4 said in an advisory.

Deep Fakes

“We will see a coordinated disinformation campaign that will rely heavily on deep fakes and manipulated footage to cause a political or /financial circus,” KnowBe4 security researches said. “A deep fake could be used to manipulate a certain political party’s views by stating false opinions, promises, or beliefs of a particular candidate. This could cause a chain reaction of certain organizations pulling funds from a political campaign based on statements made by the deep fake.


The security experts predict that a major cryptocurrency will be attacked, causing billions of dollars in lost value either through direct theft or in value loss. Many individuals and organizations will be severely impacted and it will be referred to as the Black Crypto Day.


“Most likely somewhere in Eastern Europe, we will see some bad actors cut off your power, your gas, and your water,” KnowBe4 said. “Then as you watch in horror as your phone, tablets, and laptop batteries die, they will hand out an olive branch that many will be ready to accept, but at what cost?”

Hack Back

KnowBe4 sees a retaliation against the bad actors with overly eager security researchers who would think they have identified the culprit behind a major attack. They will hack back only to discover they did not attribute the attack correctly.

“This will cause a major international incident and the organization responsible will be placed under extreme scrutiny,” the security experts said.