As we enter 2024, the cybersecurity landscape will evolve to present new challenges and opportunities.
From the rise of AI phishing attacks to the increasing demand for skilled cybersecurity professionals, this article explores ten key areas for businesses to be aware of this year.
Let’s dive in.
1. AI and Machine Learning
In 2023, Kaspersky reported that AI and neural networks are being used to generate content for scams, indicating an upgrade in the methods employed by cybercriminals to design phishing scams in particular.
This includes the rise of ‘deep fakes’, which are ultra-realistic depictions of people’s appearance or voice, which could now tangibly affect people’s behaviour and can be used in phishing scams.
However, it’s a double-edged sword, as these technologies are also being used defensively to monitor and analyse unusual network activity in greater detail than ever.
The cybersecurity community is leveraging AI and ML innovatively, such as using chatbots to automate red teaming of security systems.
Furthermore, businesses should be careful about how they use generative AI tools like ChatGPT, as thousands of logins were found leaked to the dark net. If businesses use these tools to share and process sensitive data, that could pose a serious security risk.
2. Upgraded Authentication Methods
A study by Microsoft showed that 99.9% of account compromise incidents could be prevented using multi-factor authentication (MFA), a key component of passwordless strategies. Yet, only 11% of enterprises implement MFA correctly.
MFA should be considered more than a best practice – it should be standard practice.
It’s a quick win for businesses looking to boost the security of their internal systems and external logins to any SaaS tools they use.
Additionally, biometric authentication methods, like Apple’s Face ID and Touch ID, are increasingly used for secure personal and professional access. Businesses should look to MFA and biometric authentication secure logins as the first line of defence against attacks.
3. Quantum Computing’s Impact on Encryption
Quantum computing poses a significant challenge to current encryption standards.
Quantum computers, with their ultra-scale computational capabilities, can potentially break widely used encryption algorithms such as RSA and ECC.
In anticipation of this threat, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is actively working on developing and standardising quantum-resistant encryption algorithms.
While quantum computing is largely in its infancy, businesses should keep an eye on its development in 2024.
4. Rise of Sophisticated Phishing Attacks
There was a 47.2% increase in phishing attacks compared to the previous year, highlighting these threats’ ever-growing sophistication and frequency.
Education was the most targeted industry, with a 576% increase in attacks. Direct financial loss from successful phishing attacks increased by 76% in 2022.
Additionally, 44% of people mistakenly believe an email is safe if it contains familiar branding, but cybercriminals have used Microsoft branding or products in over 30 million malicious messages sent in 2022.
Remarkably, the UK is the most targeted country for phishing attacks in Europe, with 96% of organisations being targeted. Six in ten mid-sized organisations in the UK have been hit by fraud, including phishing, resulting in an average loss of £245,000.
As noted, AI-generated deep fakes make it easier for threat actors to con people into passing over sensitive information.
Educating employees about phishing attacks and how AI makes them considerably more realistic and believable is vital not to become one of these statistics.
5. Enhanced Focus on Mobile Security
The use of mobile devices for both personal and professional use has increased dramatically.
This necessitates a stronger focus on mobile security measures such as encryption protocols and multi-factor authentication to protect against unauthorised access and cyber threats.
Businesses must develop device policies covering remote working and mobile usage, protecting against man-in-the-middle attacks and other security risks.
Don’t brush mobile security under the carpet – if you’re handling sensitive information on smartphones or tablets, then they need to be protected to the same extent as computers.
6. Remote Work and Cybersecurity Implications
Tying with the above, the rise of remote work has brought unique cybersecurity challenges. With employees accessing company networks from multiple locations worldwide, there’s a greater risk of security breaches.
In fact, some 20% of organisations that experience security breaches do so through remote workers.
Organisations are strengthening remote access security by implementing strong encryption protocols and requiring multi-factor authentication for all cloud applications.
This trend also includes educating remote employees about security best practices, such as MFA, VPNs, and antivirus/malware software.
7. Adoption of Zero Trust Security Models
The Zero Trust model, which operates on the principle of “never trust, always verify,” is increasingly being recognised as a fundamental aspect of cybersecurity strategies.
It demands rigorous identity verification, strict access controls, and continuous monitoring of network activities.
Organisations are advised to adopt a Zero Trust architecture to minimise attack surfaces and reduce the impact in case of successful attacks.
This ensures that every user, application, device, and network is verified before being granted access to sensitive data.
8. Cybersecurity Skills Gap and Education
Tangential to the threat landscape itself, the cybersecurity field is experiencing considerable skills and labour gaps.
Even with the global cybersecurity workforce increasing to 5.5 million in 2023, there’s still a demand for an additional 4 million professionals. This gap is further exacerbated by a skills shortage in key areas such as cloud computing security, AI/ML, and zero trust implementation.
Organisations should prioritise developing training programs and educational initiatives to bridge this gap.
They’re investing in professional development opportunities, certifications, and diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs to build a more skilled and diverse workforce.
The combination of recruiting new talent and upskilling existing staff is crucial for addressing the evolving cybersecurity landscape.
9. IoT Security Enhancements
Securing interconnected IoT devices and networks has become a critical concern, as IoT networks and edge devices are notoriously vulnerable to cyber attacks.
The focus here is on developing standardised security protocols and incorporating advanced technologies like AI, machine learning, and blockchain.
These evolving technologies enhance security by enabling real-time threat detection and response and providing more secure, decentralised network architectures.
It’s a fast-evolving field – if your business uses IoT devices or plans to invest, then don’t neglect the need for cutting-edge security.
10. Regulatory Compliance and Data Privacy Laws
The tightening of data privacy laws and increased regulatory compliance influence cybersecurity strategies.
The UK Online Safety Act, EU Digital Services Act, and EU AI Act, forthcoming in 2024 or 2025, are three pieces of legislation that will shape the regulatory environment over the coming years.
Organisations must continue to ensure cybersecurity measures align with legal requirements to protect user data and privacy. This involves regular audits, updates to security protocols, and building an incident response process that can quickly and effectively address cyber incidents.
As digital legislation evolves, particularly regarding the use of AI and ML, businesses must stay informed and proactively align their cybersecurity practices.
Cybersecurity doesn’t stand still – organisations must stay vigilant, invest in education and training, and employ robust security measures to combat evolving threats.
By staying informed and proactive, businesses can not only protect themselves but also leverage these challenges as opportunities for growth and innovation.
Mustard IT can assist you in safeguarding your digital infrastructure for now and in the future.
Our expert team offers tailored solutions and insights, ensuring your business stays ahead in the ever-evolving world of cybersecurity. Contact us here to learn more.