Emerging Cybersecurity Threats in 2024: The New Landscape of Digital Defense

Explore the evolving cybersecurity landscape of 2024 and stay ahead of emerging digital threats. Learn about AI-driven attacks, supply chain vulnerabilities, deepfake technology, and more in our in-depth analysis.

The first half of the year saw a significant increase in criminal activities, as per Check Point Research (CPR), which reported an 8% surge in global weekly cyberattacks during the second quarter. This marked the highest volume in two years. Traditional threats such as ransomware and hacktivism have evolved, with criminal groups adapting their methods and tools to infiltrate and impact organizations worldwide. Even older technology like USB storage devices has seen a resurgence as a means to spread malware.

One of the most notable developments in 2023 was the transformation of the ransomware landscape. Data collected from over 120 ransomware “shame-sites” revealed that in the first half of the year, 48 ransomware groups publicly extorted more than 2,200 victims. This year witnessed several high-profile cases, including the attack on MGM Resorts, which disrupted major Las Vegas sites for several days and is expected to incur substantial remediation costs.

Check Point’s cybersecurity predictions for 2024 can be categorized into six areas: Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, Supply chain and critical infrastructure attacks, cyber insurance, nation-state activities, weaponized deepfake technology, and phishing attacks.

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning

  • The rise of AI-driven cyberattacks: AI and machine learning will play a significant role in the cybersecurity landscape. Threat actors are expected to adopt AI to accelerate and enhance various aspects of their toolkit, from developing new malware and ransomware variants more efficiently to using deepfake technologies for advanced phishing and impersonation attacks.
  • Fighting back with AI: Just as cybercriminals harness AI and ML, cybersecurity defenders will also invest in these technologies to guard against advanced threats.
  • Impact of regulation: Europe and the US are taking steps to regulate AI use. These regulatory developments will shape the use of AI for both offensive and defensive purposes in the coming year.

Supply Chain and Critical Infrastructure Attacks

  • Zero trust in the supply chain: Increasing cyberattacks on critical infrastructure, some with nation-state involvement, will prompt a shift toward “zero trust” models, requiring verification for anyone attempting to connect to a system, regardless of their network location. Stricter cybersecurity regulations will necessitate organizations to align with these legal frameworks.
  • Supply chain vulnerabilities persist: Incidents involving the supply chain will continue to challenge organizations if they do not implement stricter evaluations of third-party suppliers.
  • Strengthening security protocols: Recent breaches have underscored the importance of stronger security protocols within the supply chain. Organizations must demand more rigorous evaluations and the implementation of security protocols to thwart further attacks.

Cyber Insurance

  • AI in insurance: The insurance industry will adopt AI to assess the cyber resilience of prospective customers and may offer cybersecurity services directly. However, it’s important to note that AI alone cannot solve all cybersecurity challenges, and companies must balance security with convenience.
  • A shift to preventive measures: Rising cyber insurance costs and talent shortages will drive organizations to transition from reactive to more effective defensive security. Demonstrating proactive cybersecurity measures may lead to reduced premiums.

Nation-State Attacks and Hacktivism

  • The persistence of cyber warfare: The Russo-Ukraine conflict marked a significant milestone in nation-state cyber warfare. Geopolitical instability will continue into the next year, with hacktivist activities, particularly DDoS attacks, aimed at causing disruption and chaos.
  • Masking hidden agendas: Hacktivist groups may use political justifications for their attacks while pursuing ulterior motives, potentially blurring the lines between hacktivism and commercialism.

Weaponized Deepfake Technology

  • Advances in deepfake technology: Threat actors will continue to weaponize deepfake technology for various malicious purposes, including manipulating content to influence public opinion, impact stock prices, or gain access to sensitive data through social engineering attacks.

Phishing Attacks

  • Phishing and legitimate tools: Threat actors are increasingly using phishing campaigns to “log in” rather than “break in.” As a result, we can expect a rise in attacks originating from credential theft rather than exploiting software vulnerabilities.
  • Advanced phishing tactics: AI-enhanced phishing tactics are likely to become more personalized and effective, making it harder for individuals to detect malicious intent and leading to more phishing-related breaches.

Ransomware: Stealthy Exploits, Enhanced Extortion, and AI Battlefields

  • Prevailing “living off the land” tactics: Expect a surge in the adoption of “living off the land” techniques, which leverage legitimate system tools for attacks. This approach is subtler and more challenging to detect, emphasizing the need for sophisticated threat prevention strategies.
  • Data risks amid ransomware defenses: Despite organizations bolstering their defenses against ransomware, incidents of data loss or leakage may rise, particularly as organizations rely more on SaaS platforms for sensitive data storage.
  • Nuances in ransomware reporting: The observed increase in ransomware attacks may be partly due to newly instituted reporting mandates. Careful analysis is crucial to understand the true extent of the threat.

In the face of evolving cyber threats, organizations must adapt their cybersecurity strategies. It is essential for companies to prioritize their security protocols and scrutinize the practices of their third-party suppliers. With the rise of AI-enhanced cyberattacks, zero trust models, and deepfake technology, investing in collaborative and comprehensive cybersecurity solutions becomes more critical than ever. Staying vigilant and agile is essential in the battle against expanding cyber threats.