The cybersecurity landscape has become increasingly dangerous and challenging to navigate over the last number of years. Cybercrime has become a national and global threat to governments, corporations, as well as private individuals. Attacks are more frequent, and the potential consequences — including the loss of sensitive data, identity theft, business disruption and damage, and erosion of customer trust – are increasing exponentially year after year. With the conversation about cybersecurity becoming a matter of urgency in many boardrooms, IT specialists applying for a career in IT are more in demand than ever.
As the need for cybersecurity becomes ever more urgent, it must surely be everyone’s top priority in the next twelve months. With that in mind, we teamed up with experts at Jooble to take a closer look at some of the main cybersecurity threats and trends in 2024.
Cyber awareness in 2024
When we think of cyberwarfare, we imagine an ongoing battle between evil hackers, crafty criminal masterminds, and hostile foreign nations on the one side, and cybersecurity specialists fighting on the other side on behalf of the good guys. That’s not far off from reality. Cyber threats frequently originate from adversarial foreign countries and tech-savvy criminal organisations using ransomware and malware, social media attacks, and other means of all-out cyber warfare. However, threats to an organisation’s cybersecurity are just as likely to arise from poorly secured networks that unintentionally expose important data, or from careless employees operating unsecured devices. Consequently, in 2024, the need for strong cybersecurity awareness has never been more important.
Cybersecurity risks & threats in 2024
The main objective, whether it is for an individual or an organisation, is to protect their digital data. Any minor weakness in computer software, a network, or a browser could allow hackers access to sensitive data, causing potentially irreparable harm to any business, government organisation, or private individual. Here are some of the potential threats to look out for in 2024:
1. Ransomware & Extortion
In 2022, the most intense cyber threat to the UK’s cybersecurity has been ransomware attacks. Cyber attackers employ ransomware to extort money from an organisation or private individual in exchange for the recovery of their ‘stolen’ or corrupted data. This practice is particularly prevalent in industrialised countries where specialised software is frequently used to carry out regular and essential business operations. Three out of every four enterprises globally have reported being the victim of ransomware attacks. In addition, 64% of businesses that experienced a ransomware incident paid the demanded sum, yet only 6 out of 10 were able to recover their data. As an example of the potential damage these attacks can cause, the WannaCry ransomware attack on National Health Service hospitals in England and Scotland affected more than 70,000 medical devices.
In order to guarantee the safeguarding of sensitive/confidential data, internal governance, cyber awareness training, email security, backups, and other measures are urgently required in 2024.
2. The Internet of Things (IoT)
The more devices we network and connect across the internet, the more potential entry points there are for hackers to access our data. Analysts estimate that 43 billion IoT-connected appliances will exist worldwide by 2024.
Many IoT devices are easy targets for cybercriminals due to unsecured data transfer and storage, providing easy access to networks with weak security. These devices include smart wearables, smart home appliances, cars, alarm systems, industrial equipment, etc. Manufacturers have not traditionally been focused on keeping these devices safe simply because they are mostly not used to directly store critical data. However, even though they may not retain important data directly, attackers can utilize them as entry points to other networked devices that do.
Efforts to improve security surrounding connected devices, as well as the cloud systems and networks that link them together, should be one of the main focal points in 2024.
3. Work-from-home cybersecurity
Securing the millions of digital devices used for home and remote work has become a cybersecurity priority for many organisations, especially during and after the Covid-19 pandemic. Before the pandemic, when employees were mainly office-based, it was relatively simple for security personnel in IT departments to routinely examine and update business laptops and smartphones. This made checking for spyware and viruses, running antivirus software, and taking other precautionary measures, quite simple. However, in post-pandemic 2024, many employees will likely continue to work from home and connect remotely to corporate networks using personal unsecured devices, thereby increasing the risk of cyberattacks.
4. 5G Networks: a new area of risk
A new age of connectedness with the Internet of Things (IoT) has dawned thanks to the development of 5G networks. Because 5G architecture is so new to the market, extensive study is needed to identify vulnerabilities and strengthen the system’s defences against cyber threats. To prevent data breaches, extreme caution will be needed when creating advanced 5G hardware and software, not only in 2024, but also well into the future.
5. The rise in automotive hacking
Today’s vehicles use onboard computers to facilitate features like airbags, cruise control, door locks, advanced driver-aid systems, and more. These vehicles use Bluetooth and Wi-Fi to connect, which exposes them to a number of security flaws. With more automated vehicles on the road in 2024, it’s anticipated that attempts to take control of them or listen in on conversations, will very likely increase. Autonomous or self-driving vehicles that use even more sophisticated software processes will need even more stringent cybersecurity precautions, for obvious reasons.
6. International state-sponsored cyberwarfare
Certain countries engage in cyberespionage and sabotage in an effort to topple rival governments or access state, industrial, or military secrets. In the modern day, it’s more likely than ever that both governments, as well as non-governmental organisations, will become the targets of cyberattacks.
Government elections are scheduled to take place in more than 70 nations in 2024, which may be vulnerable to hostile foreign interests. These attacks can include social media misinformation and interference in digital election systems with the aim of swaying political outcomes. Political and business secrets, as well as high-profile data breaches, are predicted to dominate the international cyberwarfare landscape in 2024.
Using Artificial intelligence to fight cybercrime
It is becoming more difficult for human cybersecurity specialists to respond to all attempted cyberattacks and predict where the most dangerous threats will occur next. Consequently, AI has become an essential tool to help with cybersecurity. By analysing vast amounts of data, AI and ML (machine learning) technologies can make it possible to quickly and accurately identify potential threats. AI algorithms can study an enormous quantity of data flowing across networks in real time and learn to spot patterns that point to a threat.
Unfortunately, hackers and criminals are becoming more adept at using AI as well. AI algorithms can be used to find systems with weak security, or networks likely to contain important data. Additionally, it can be used to generate a large number of individualised phishing emails that are intended to deceive recipients into disclosing critical information. These harmful emails get better at avoiding automated email defence systems that are meant to block this kind of threat.
Increasing cybersecurity awareness in 2024
Developing and instilling a culture of awareness around cybersecurity risks is perhaps the most crucial priority in the coming years. Organisations and their employees can no longer leave it to the IT department to handle cybersecurity-related issues. In 2024, everyone should be made aware of these dangers and how to take simple safety precautions. Learning to recognize and protect themselves against phishing and malware attempts require simple safety measures without needing technical expertise. Fundamental security measures like secure password usage and two-factor authentication (2FA), for example, ought to be taught to everyone and regularly updated.
If an organisation wants to make sure that they create resilience and preparations against cyberattacks in 2024, taking simple safeguards like these to promote a culture of cybersecurity awareness among employees should be a major element in any business strategy.
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