What’s Next for Cybersecurity and Privacy in 2024?

2023 was a significant year for cybersecurity and data privacy issues. Cybersecurity Ventures reported that worldwide cybercrime costs are projected to reach a record $10.5 trillion annually by 2025. Over the past few years, businesses have not only stepped up their efforts to protect people’s privacy, but governments at both the federal and state levels have increased their scrutiny and passed new laws as well.  

Looking back at cybersecurity in 2023, we can see both continuing trends and emerging issues. Phishing attacks such as ransomware are a persistent problem, while the Internet of Things (IoT) and remote work continue to grow, exposing new vectors for attacks. There also remains the complicated question of how advances in artificial intelligence will affect our lives. IT departments have their hands full making sure sensitive company data stays secure while adhering to myriad regulations. 

Privacy and information protection will likely remain huge challenges going forward. For any organization looking to stay ahead of the curve, it’s all about being proactive. The world is constantly changing, especially the digital one. The flexible teams that are always adapting and learning will be the best prepared for what’s coming down the line. 

AI usage will increasingly affect cybersecurity

In 2023, AI gained media attention as both a helpful technology and a potential new threat. News coverage of AI only accelerated throughout the year. As we’ve explored in our featured article in App Developer Magazine, we expect this trend to continue in 2024.

Businesses and organizations of all stripes have been quick to adopt AI, but so have cyber criminals.  AI and machine learning can be deployed efficiently in enhancing early detection methods and predicting threats.  AI-based analysis has the potential for faster, and perhaps even autonomous incident response capabilities. AI Security solutions even have the capability to detect patterns to discover malicious code, and to make predictions of cybersecurity threats using previous data.

On the other hand, generative AI can facilitate a hacker’s creation of convincing phishing “lures” for social engineering.  Furthermore, AI can automate scanning and exploiting vulnerabilities in computer systems, as well as develop evasion techniques to avoid detection by traditional cybersecurity tools.  ChatGPT has even written its own functional malware, not yet sophisticated but quickly produced and able to steal sensitive data.

For the moment, this still remains a relatively new, but already transformative frontier.  As Forbes states, “A vigilant and strategic approach is crucial in harnessing AI’s potential, emphasizing targeted applications to address specific vulnerabilities and challenges within the technology infrastructure.”  Cyber defenses utilizing artificial intelligence stand to shift to a more proactive, rather than reactive, approach to protecting their valuable data.

More privacy legislation

It is likely that in the coming year, more states will enact privacy legislation, following a trend that has been accelerating over the last few years. These new laws are expected to be similar to the current Connecticut Data Privacy Act (CTDPA) and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) legislations; to learn more about these acts, check out our article on data privacy. In 2024, we may also see new legislation regarding the reporting of data breaches. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) published a new order in December that broadened the definitions of a reportable breach, expanded the scope of protected consumer information, and updated rules stating that you must notify federal agencies of data breaches along with updated reporting overall. This is expected to become effective in 2024

Ransomware attacks and the human hack will continue to rise

In the past year, we saw ransomware attacks become more sophisticated and personal. Ransomware is expected to continue to get more complex and damaging in 2024, exploiting vulnerabilities. This may involve targeting employees and customers, or stealing company assets. Regardless of the specifics of the approach, ransomware in its entirety is expected to have a more harmful impact on businesses in the coming years. Companies should prioritize the use of robust backup solutions, employee training and vulnerability assessments to mitigate the impact of ransomware attacks. 

Social engineering schemes – hacking the human – in which bad actors seek to use unwitting individuals to voluntarily share legitimate access protocols, continue to plague IT teams.  The most notorious phishing schemers are constantly evolving newer, more sophisticated methods to circumvent advances in cyber defense technologies (see our article on ransomware defense for further information).  Ransomware involves the deployment of malware to a target’s network, in order to block off their valuable data unless a ransom is paid.  It is a pernicious method of turning a layer of defense into an attack.  

A more recent twist on this strategy is called remote encryption.  A bad actor only requires a connection to one unprotected device in order to gain access to the whole network.  Through this method, they can use the device to encrypt data throughout the internal network.  This makes it harder for protected machines to detect the malicious activity, since its presence remains isolated to an unprotected machine.

Research reveals that these tactics show no signs of slowing.

  • According to IBM’s 2023 data breach report, the average cost of a cyber security incident is $4.45 million.  This does not even take into account the looming penalties that come from failing to meet compliance standards, whether PCI, GDPR, HIPAA Omnibus/HiTECH and FIPS 140-2.
  • Tech Target lists Education, Government agencies, Financial services and Healthcare among the top industry targets.  Indeed, one of the most newsworthy incidents in the latter half of the year was the MOVEIt breach that hit educational institutions especially.

In addition, 98% of cyber attacks rely on some form of social engineering.

Lions and tigers and connected devices, oh my!

It’s true – we are all connected thanks to the Internet of Things (IoT). Along with clearbenefits, IoT has also been a curse because small, connected devices are often vulnerable to cyberattacks, 

According to the SonicWall Cyber Threat Report, in the first half of 2023, IoT malware attacks were up globally by 37%, resulting in a total of 77.9 million incidents.  Splashtop, a remote access and support software company, believes that one possible change will be a mandate to include universal encryption standards and security certifications for new devices. 

As per the Internet of Things Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2020, IoT devices are subject to certain security regulations at the state and federal level, but these minimum standards can always be improved upon, and IoT made more resilient.

In addition, user education about IoT security can always improve security posture; inevitability is no justification not to have such training in place.

More than 15 billion connected IoT devices are currently active in the world, finds GetAstra, and websites and mobile devices are the most common targets. It is unsurprising that 1.51 billion breaches were reported within a six month period in 2022; 51% of IT teams aren’t even up to speed on what types of devices are interacting with their networks.  The trend only looks to increase going forward.

Accompanying the wide spread of IoT is the continued expansion of remote and hybrid work structures.  We’ve seen how “53% of remote-capable workers expect a hybrid work environment to be the norm, and nearly a quarter of all workers anticipate they will work exclusively remotely.” 

As stated, many IT teams lack knowledge about what is connecting to their networks, complicated all the more by the diaspora of devices out in the wild.  IBM’s report also indicates that 82% of breaches involve cloud-based data, reflecting the ubiquity of remote servers storing valuable information in modern business operations.  Whether through phishing schemes or simply through an insecure laptop, the attack surface has never been wider.

How can you be proactive towards these cybersecurity trends? 

  1. Be skeptical

Whenever you receive an email or other document, be cautious, as cybercriminals often pose as popular companies, organizations or even people in your network. Be sure to never click on any buttons or links before digging deeper, and verify the sender. If you are not sure whether something is a scam, err on the side of caution – don’t click the links. 

  1. Manage your passwords

Make sure that the passwords you use are unique and not the same across all accounts. Where it’s available, use multi-factor authentication (MFA).

  1. Improve your cybersecurity plan

Cybersecurity plans are not only important for your IT team but your entire company. Ensuring that employees understand the potential risks, knowing what to keep an eye out for and having the necessary encryption set up on their machines are critical steps. 

One piece of this plan should be data encryption, which works to keep your information safe and secure. Encryption allows systems to conceal information by making it useless and unreadable by unauthorized users. NetLib Security’s Encryptionizer solution secures data in physical, virtual or cloud environments transparently, with virtually no impact on performance, ensuring you’re covered without slowing you down.

As we gaze into the future of cybersecurity in 2024, it becomes evident that the landscape is evolving at an unprecedented pace. When it comes to security, there are some basics that everyone should focus on. Measures like firewalls, user access controls, and employee training can help lock down the network perimeter, but the most important thing is making sure your data is locked up tight. That means encrypting any sensitive information that your business stores. You never know when a hacker will find their way past your defenses. When they do, you don’t want them to be able to just grab all your info and use it how they want. Encryption will ruin their plans.

About NetLib Security

Solutions for 2024 demand a concerted effort at every level of the organization to keep the data under lock and key.  Perimeter defenses, prevention and detection capabilities, IoT device security, newer considerations like AI utilization as both defense and risk, and of course, secure data encryption: these are crucial measures organizations will have at their disposal.

NetLib Security has spent the past 20+ years developing a powerful, patented solution, Encryptionizer, that starts by setting up a formidable offense which can be managed from anywhere in the world, across every environment where your data resides: physical, virtual and cloud. Our platform is geared to simplify the process for you while ensuring unprecedented levels of security are in place.

You can simplify your data security needs by utilizing Encryptionizer to satisfy your security requirements quickly, and with confidence. These days it’s essential to protect the safety, integrity and confidentiality of sensitive data. NetLib Security’s unique encryption solutions are an easy and cost effective way to proactively and transparently protect your data. We also understand budget considerations are a constant concern, which is why we designed an affordable data security platform to protect, manage and defend while enabling the growing areas of compliance. Protecting your data doesn’t have to break the bank, but not protecting it will.

NetLib Security works closely with government agencies, healthcare organizations, small to large enterprises spanning financial services, credit card processors, distributors, and resellers to deliver a flexible data security solution to meet their ever changing needs. For more information or to request a free evaluation visit us at www.netlibsecurity.com.