2024 Top 5 Cybersecurity Predictions

2024 promises to be a year marked by unprecedented challenges and innovations. Picture this: a bustling metropolis, where the heartbeat of daily life synchronizes with the hum of digital connectivity. Now, imagine the sudden jolt when schools, utilities, critical infrastructure, entertainment giants, financial institutions and your vacation destination all find themselves under siege by malicious hackers, disrupting the rhythm of normalcy. Teachers cannot take attendance and record grades, students cannot access homework, schools are shut down, tourists are locked out of their hotel rooms, transportation stops working – this isn’t something out of an H.G Wells novel. This was the reality of the last few years. The colossal attacks on LAUSD, MGM Resorts, Boeing, Mr. Cooper and more, sent shockwaves through our daily lives, thrusting the importance of digital resilience into the spotlight. We can no longer focus solely on the prevention of cyberattacks; we must fortify our ability to endure them and rebound quickly. 

Unplugging everything is not a solution. We saw how poorly that worked in the attacks on MGM and LAUSD. The interconnected nature of our modern world demands a strategic shift. As we delve into  cyber resilience, ransomware threats, AI-based scams, and the looming shadow of quantum computing, it becomes clear that the digital realm is no longer just a virtual space—it’s the infrastructure of our reality, and its protection is a shared responsibility. This article explores the 2024 cybersecurity terrain – where the challenges are real, the threats are dynamic, and our commitment to not only safeguarding the integrity, availability, and confidentiality of information but also the recovery from an attack (our resilience), must be paramount.

1.  Cyber Resilience 

The massive 2023 attacks catapulted the importance of digital resilience to new levels. Everyone is now paying attention. With the escalating sophistication of cyber threats and the persistent ingenuity of threat actors, organizations must shift their focus from preventing attacks to fortifying their ability to withstand and quickly recover from them. The interconnected nature of modern technology means that no company is immune to breaches. “Unplugging everything” is not a realistic strategy. Resilience must be a primary concern.

Introducing Digital Resilience. If you haven’t heard of this term – you will. Think of digital resilience as giving your computer, devices and company the ability to keep working after a problem. It’s a bit like having a superhero for your digital world – but at the global infrastructure level! So, imagine if your computer faces a problem, like a sudden glitch or the operating system crashes. Digital resilience is the superpower that quickly figures out what went wrong, stops the problem from becoming worse and finds a way to fix itself, so you can get back to playing games, doing homework, or whatever you were doing without interruption. It’s all about making sure your devices bounce back from hiccups and stay strong. Now we have to apply this concept to quickly recover from ransomware.

The increasing interdependence on global digital infrastructure and the proliferation of emerging technologies like AI and modern payments underscore the urgency for a robust cyber resilience strategy. Beyond the traditional firewalls and antivirus software, embracing a holistic approach that encompasses best practices, reducing the attack surface, proactive threat detection, rapid incident response, and comprehensive recovery plans is a must. The ability to adapt and recover swiftly from cyber incidents will minimize the impact of breaches AND ensure the continuity of operations. In 2024, cyber resilience is not just a goal; it’s a strategic imperative for safeguarding the integrity, availability, and confidentiality of sensitive information of our companies and our customers.

2.  Ransomware 2.0

Ransomware will continue to loom as a large, formidable and persistent threat – because we make it too easy! 

As technology advances, so do ransomware attacks, with cybercriminals adopting more insidious tactics and leveraging technologies to maximize their impact. While the tactics used to infiltrate companies are still elementary. Phishing, fake phone calls, and credential stuffing are all still very lucrative methods to deploy ransomware, It’s the damage done afterwards that keeps increasing.  The evolution of ransomware from mere data encryption to sophisticated strategies, such as double extortion and the targeting of critical infrastructure, signals a dark turn. 2024 is poised for an alarming surge in ransomware incidents, fueled by the increasing connectivity of devices, Ransomware as a service, the proliferation of cryptocurrencies facilitating anonymous transactions, the lack of qualified cybersecurity professionals, and a shocking continuing failure to follow best practices. 

Organizations across all industries must brace themselves for more targeted and sophisticated ransomware campaigns, requiring a proactive and adaptive cybersecurity posture. Defending against ransomware goes beyond conventional measures; it demands a comprehensive strategy that includes robust backup and recovery, consistent and frequent employee training to recognize phishing attempts, and the implementation of advanced threat detection technologies, as well as mandatory processes that ensure best practices are being followed. 

3.  AI Based Deep Fakes

The specter of AI-based deep fake scams looms large as a pervasive and sophisticated threat to everyone –  individuals and organizations alike. Rapid advancements in AI have empowered malicious actors to create highly convincing and manipulative content, such as deepfake videos and audio impersonations. These deceptive creations can be employed for myriad  malicious purposes, from spreading disinformation to impersonating trusted figures for financial gain or political influence to launching kidnapping scams. The authenticity of individuals in videos can be manipulated seamlessly, making it increasingly challenging to discern between genuine and fabricated content. As these deepfake technologies become more accessible, the potential for their use in scams continues to rise, necessitating the development of robust detection tools and heightened awareness to counteract. We willingly share too much of our information online and on social media, making these deep fakes more and more realistic.

4.  Encryption and Quantum Computing

Quantum computing leverages the principles of quantum mechanics to tackle problems that traditional computers find insurmountable.

Many current encryption techniques hinge on the complexity of factoring large prime numbers—a task easily handled by these very powerful quantum computers. Should quantum computers become widely accessible, there’s a greater risk of them being used to break the encryption that safeguards critical information, such as financial transactions or governmental communications.

To counter this threat, researchers are actively crafting quantum-resistant cryptographic methods. These post-quantum cryptography techniques aim to provide a quantum-comparable level of security. However, the extensive adoption of post-quantum cryptography demands time and resources, leaving a considerable security void until it becomes commonplace.

Another worry involves the weaponization of quantum computers in cyber attacks. Quantum computers could unleash devastating assaults by breaching encryption or simulating intricate systems to pinpoint vulnerabilities. Moreover, the race to develop quantum-resistant encryption could incite a global competition among nations striving to construct quantum computers for military purposes. International collaboration and regulatory frameworks become imperative to ensure the peaceful application of quantum computing and  reduce the risks to global cybersecurity.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has announced its initiative to standardize encryption algorithms capable of withstanding potential attacks from quantum computers. Recognizing the imminent threat posed by quantum computing to current cryptographic systems, NIST aims to develop robust encryption methods that can resist quantum attacks. This effort is crucial for ensuring the security and integrity of sensitive data in the face of advancements in quantum computing technology, which could compromise the effectiveness of existing encryption techniques. NIST’s commitment to establishing standardized quantum-resistant encryption algorithms underscores the agency’s dedication to maintaining cybersecurity standards in an evolving technological landscape.

5. AI and the CISO

While AI has often been a buzzword used by cybersecurity vendors, CISOs need to understand the actual implications and applications to their business plans and be able to effectively communicate the advantages and the risks.  The ever present challenge of balancing business objectives and quick results versus security. 

In 2023, CyberArk researchers showed that they could make sneaky computer viruses using ChatGPT. These viruses are tricky because they can evade traditional antivirus and anti-malware software.  CyberArk used an example that showed how code injection into explorer.exe using Python could be used to sneak past antivirus, making it easier for less skilled hackers to create new viruses. This highlights the real danger of AI in the hands of the wrong people. CISOs will have to deal with this growing threat in 2024.

 As intrusion detection systems become more sophisticated, hackers mimic user behavior to avoid detection. Machine Learning (ML) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) play a crucial role in identifying anomalies and taking corrective actions – a key component to any CISOs tool chest. However, hackers have turned this technology to their advantage, using ML/AI to model user behavior effectively and evade intrusion detection systems.

The emergence of AI-based phishing, ransomware, and password-cracking algorithms makes things even more challenging. The same principles that enable computers to learn and improve in activities like chess can also be maliciously used to guess passwords. In this context, implementing 2-factor authentication becomes a vital defense mechanism, ensuring if a password is guessed, it remains ineffective without a secondary authentication factor.

The evolving landscape of AI presents a double-edged sword. AI algorithms self-adjust and become more skillful with access to more data from which they learn.  The bad guys are already doing this. 2024 promises significant developments in this area.  

Be Proactive, Take Action!

As we start 2024 – one thing is clear: we cannot continue using traditional approaches to security and hope we will make it through. My father always said “Hope is not a strategy.” For businesses to survive, proactive planning, careful consideration of potential challenges, and the implementation of concrete actions are required to achieve goals, especially against the threats mentioned above. The tales of cyber resilience, the relentless evolution of ransomware, AI-based scams, and the quantum revolution paint a vivid canvas of the challenges. The cybersecurity landscape is a living, breathing entity, shaped by the actions we take today and the innovations we forge tomorrow. What strategies will emerge, what technologies will rise to the occasion, which companies will thrive, which will implode and how will the dance between security and innovation unfold? The journey continues, and the next chapter awaits those curious enough to venture into this next chapter of cybersecurity.

If you’re looking to be proactive and take action to safeguard your digital assets and improve your security posture, XYPRO and HPE can help.  We specialize in providing comprehensive ransomware protection and digital resilience solutions, leveraging cutting-edge technologies and industry standard strategies to fortify your defenses. Our expertise and commitment to staying ahead of threats make us the ideal partner to help with your cybersecurity journey. Don’t wait until it’s too late. Reach out and Talk to us!