Brett Callow, who works for the security firm Emsisoft that is based in New Zealand, told iTWire in response to queries that the tactics being used by the various groups had become more and more extreme.
"A year ago, attacks were simply costly and disruptive inconveniences in which companies' data was encrypted," he said. "Now, in addition to encrypting data, the groups also exfiltrate it, post it online, do press outreach and run Facebook ads in an attempt to shame companies into paying.
"And, unfortunately, the strategy works. Companies which would not have paid in the past — because they were able to recover their systems from back-ups — now do pay to prevent their data being published."
Callow said he expected to see the groups experimenting with new and even more extreme tactics into 2021.
"In particular, I expect to see groups start to put the stolen data to more use – specifically, by using it to attack and scam companies' customers and business partners," he said.
"Their primary objective will not be to monetise that particular set of data, but rather to apply more pressure to their future victims.
"Knowing your data will be posted online is scary, but knowing it'll actually be used against your customers is shit-your-pants scary. It'll cause more reputational damage and increase the probability of customers taking legal action."
One more tactic that some ransomware gangs have adopted is the use of distributed denial of service attacks to cow their victims into paying up.
Callow said another change that could be expected in 2021 was a rise in the ransoms demanded.
"We've gone from an average of US$5000 (A$6792) to more than US$150,000 inside a couple of years, and it seems inevitable that upward trend will continue," he said.
"This is because companies become inured to ransoms that would previously have been unthinkably large, and partly because groups are successfully attacking larger companies which are better placed to pay."