According to Forbes specialists, cybercrime will cost the global economy more than $10.5 trillion by the end of 2024. This alarming prediction emphasises the increasing need for cybersecurity to be seen as a strategic priority at individual, organisational and governmental levels.
In the dynamic terrain of cybersecurity, 2024 will usher in a new wave of challenges and complexities, and the importance of robust cybersecurity measures cannot be overstated.
Below, we have curated insights from leading external experts, the Nextro cybersecurity team, and industry publications to provide an in-depth understanding of the most imminent cybersecurity threats and reveal the crucial cybersecurity trends that demand immediate attention and proactive measures.
Supply Chain Software Attacks
Cybercriminals are capitalising on supply chain vulnerabilities to breach organisations. They target trusted vendors and suppliers to infiltrate the organisation’s networks. By using widespread breach tactics, cyberattacks infect software updates or inject malicious code into software to exploit indirect attack routes and eventually infiltrate targeted organisations.
To effectively combat this, it is imperative to implement a comprehensive strategy that includes maintaining a detailed inventory of software components, strict access controls, multi-factor authentication, data encryption, robust backups, and secure software development practices. Additionally, a proactive approach, such as implementing an incident response plan and continuous threat monitoring, will strengthen defences against supply chain software attacks.
IoT and the Expanding Attack Surface
The rapid growth of cloud computing, remote work, mobile applications, IoT devices, open-source code, bring-your-own-device (BYOD) policies, and interconnected supply chains has boosted the number of personal and third-party devices accessing organisations’ networks and expanded the attack surface for cybercrime.
Cybercriminals can exploit poorly secured networks and devices belonging to employees and independent contractors to hack organisations’ networks and access sensitive data stored on unsecured cloud storage platforms.
IoT devices have become a weak spot for organisations’ cybersecurity due to inadequate security protocols and passwords.
Robust access controls, multi-factor authentication, data encryption, continuous monitoring, and security awareness training are essential in safeguarding an organisation’s valuable digital assets amidst the expanding attack surface.
Emerging Threats and Solutions from Artificial Intelligence (AI)
In today’s digital landscape, cyber attackers are exploiting the capabilities of AI to create a wide array of threats that present significant challenges. They design AI-powered malware able to self-adapt and avoid traditional security measures, enabling them to go undetected, identify vulnerable targets, and customise their attack methods.
By exploiting AI vulnerabilities, these attacks can potentially manipulate algorithms, generating inaccurate results that can compromise an organisation’s systems and lead to data breaches. Furthermore, attackers can introduce biases and vulnerabilities during the training phases of AI models, thereby influencing the predictive behaviour of a trained model. This strategy is commonly referred to as ‘data poisoning’.
Additionally, the rise of deepfakes and identity manipulation creates new security threats. When combined with sophisticated social engineering attacks, they can deceive individuals and disseminate disinformation.
As the threat of AI-powered attacks continues to grow and put traditional defences to the test, organisations must remain vigilant and adapt their cybersecurity strategies accordingly.
Nonetheless, the integration of AI in cybersecurity heralds a transformative shift in defence mechanisms. Intrusion detection systems fortified with AI capabilities exhibit a new level of agility in discerning anomalous patterns, granting real-time response capabilities to neutralise threats that conventional systems struggle to emulate. AI-powered security systems are an indispensable force-multiplying component that can fortify cyber defences on a 24/7 basis by swiftly identifying anomalies and pre-empting potential breaches.
Cloud Security Challenges
Cloud technology has offered unparalleled flexibility and scalability to organisations around the world. However, alongside these benefits, a surge in cloud vulnerabilities demands that companies adopt robust security measures to safeguard their digital assets and data.
Whether due to cyber attacks or human error, data breaches and loss are major concerns in cloud environments despite the well-equipped infrastructure provided by the cloud.
To overcome traditional security tools’ cloud threats and limitations, organisations must invest in robust cloud-native security solutions, including a zero-trust architecture, strict access control, data encryption, and regular data backups. Prioritising endpoint and network security measures, reviewing security configurations, conducting security audits and having an incident response plan are essential to thwarting cloud cyber-attacks.
Insider Threats and Third-Party Contractor Breaches
The rise of remote work and reliance on contractors and temporary staff has created new opportunities for malicious insiders with access privileges to exploit companies’ sensitive information.
Whether intentional or accidental, employees’, contractors’ or even trusted partners’ actions can lead to devastating consequences for companies, such as data breaches and other malicious activities.
According to a recent Verizon cybersecurity report, human error remains the reason for data breaches, and over 34 percent of cyber attacks were directly or indirectly caused by employees.
Implementing strong access controls, multi-factor authentication, continuous monitoring, user behaviour analytics, and adequate employee training are vital in effectively tackling insider threats. Also, the growing reliance on third parties necessitates rigorous vetting, security assessments, and the integration of cybersecurity clauses in contracts.
Ransomware 2.0 signifies a major leap forward in the realm of cyber threats, as cybercriminals not only encrypt files but also threaten public exposure to stolen data, intensifying the impact on targeted organisations. This emerging trend, often referred to as “extortionware,” highlights the critical need for organisations to bolster their defence mechanisms and proactively shield their data and infrastructure from these calculated and highly damaging assaults.
As cyber threats continue to evolve, ransomware attacks are becoming more sophisticated. With the adoption of AI, machine learning and Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) to exploit unknown vulnerabilities, attackers are honing their evasion techniques with increased precision, making their assaults even more challenging to counter.
To combat this growing menace, organisations must proactively prioritise data security, fortified by robust endpoint protection, stringent access controls, and comprehensive staff training. Strengthening incident response protocols and implementing continuous network monitoring will be vital in navigating the constantly shifting ransomware battleground and preserving organisational integrity in the face of these evolving cyber threats.
Threat Intelligence emerges as a critical component for organisations aiming to fortify their digital defences for 2024. This sophisticated practice involves systematically collecting, processing, and analysing data related to potential cybersecurity threats. By uncovering intricate attack behaviours and motives, threat intelligence empowers security teams to proactively safeguard against cyber assaults, enabling more efficient detection and response strategies. Its nuanced insights aid in comprehensively understanding organisation-specific threats, providing actionable recommendations that enhance overall security measures, thereby mitigating risks and thwarting potential data breaches.
According to leading industry experts, applying threat intelligence allows for identifying bespoke trends, patterns, and relationships within the intricate web of cyber threats. This tailored approach not only provides contextual relevance but also ensures a detailed understanding of potential risks. As organisations navigate the complex digital landscape, integrating threat intelligence into their cybersecurity frameworks has become an indispensable practice, effectively equipping them to combat the evolving nature of modern cyber threats. The intricate six-step threat intelligence lifecycle involves meticulous planning, data collection, rigorous processing, expert analysis, seamless dissemination, and crucial feedback loops. This holistic approach ensures that organisations remain agile and well-prepared to face the dynamic challenges of the ever-evolving cyber threats.
Zero-day Exploits and Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs)
Zero-day exploits are cyber attacks that target unknown software vulnerabilities, launching attacks before anyone can place defences to prevent them. Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) is an unyielding and long-term cyberattack that continuously seeks out network vulnerabilities. APTs have the ability to adapt and change tactics to avoid detection, making them an exceptional threat.
Using Zero-day exploits and APTs together, attackers can use undisclosed vulnerabilities to stealthily infiltrate networks, evading detection for prolonged periods, leading to data exfiltration and long-term damage.
To safeguard against Zero-Day Exploits and APTs, organisations need a proactive strategy, including regular software updates, network segmentation, robust access control and intrusion detection systems. Additionally, an actionable incident response plan, adherence to a zero-trust model, continuous network monitoring, and collaborative threat intelligence sharing minimise risks.
Cybersecurity in the Board Room
With the persistent surge in complex cyber threats, cybersecurity has become a strategic priority that can no longer be limited to the IT department. The active participation of board members in shaping and executing comprehensive security protocols has transcended being merely a technical concern. It has evolved into a pivotal business risk that demands both strategic insight and financial commitment.
Recent research predicted that by 2026, 70% of boards would include at least one member with cybersecurity expertise. This enables organisations to move beyond reactive defence and cyber resilience after attacks; they can act on new business opportunities that come with being prepared.
Organisations need to adopt a holistic and proactive approach to tackle these constantly evolving cyber threats effectively. This involves maintaining a constant state of alertness, investing in best-of-breed technology, providing security awareness education, conducting regular security assessments, adhering to industry standards and regulations, developing efficient incident response plans, and seamlessly integrating cybersecurity into their organisation strategy. With these proactive measures, organisations can fortify their defences, effectively identify and mitigate risks, respond swiftly to incidents, and protect their valuable digital assets.
Nextro understands the real threats and risks posed by cybercriminals to organisations, be they critical infrastructure or a growing enterprise. By deploying best-of-breed technologies, Nextro designs optimal security solutions to fortify an organisation’s defences, secure users and devices, and safeguard its network and data. Nextro also helps organisations to integrate cybersecurity into their business strategies, develop efficient detect-protect-and-respond action plans, and also offer Security Awareness Programs to educate employees regarding how to protect themselves and their organisations.
If you would like to discuss more about how Nextro can help address any of your cybersecurity or physical security needs in 2024, please contact us today.