By the end of 2024, the cost of cyber attacks on the global economy is predicted to top $10.5 trillion. This staggering amount reflects the growing need for cyber security to be treated as a strategic priority on individual, organisational and governmental level.
The cybersecurity landscape is constantly evolving, posing new challenges and opportunities for organisations of all sizes. As we look ahead to 2024, it's crucial to stay abreast of the latest trends and adapt our security strategies accordingly. Here are five key cybersecurity trends to watch in the coming year.
A persistent theme in 2024 is the shortage of professionals possessing the requisite skills to safeguard organisations against cyber attacks. Disturbingly, this issue seems to be escalating, with a majority (54 percent) of cyber security experts expressing the belief that the impact of the skills shortage on their respective organisations has worsened over the past two years.
Notably, this trend is not only affecting large enterprises; it is also pricing small and medium-sized businesses out of the opportunity to hire IT security talent.
Efforts to address this pressing challenge are anticipated to involve ongoing salary hikes for individuals possessing the necessary skills, alongside increased investments in training, development, and upskilling programs.
As the realm of AI advances at an astonishing pace, both sides in the cybersecurity landscape are increasingly harnessing the capabilities of Generative AI. The rapid sophistication of AI technology gives rise to more nuanced and intelligent AI-powered attacks, ranging from sophisticated deepfake social engineering endeavours to adaptive malware designed to outsmart detection systems.
Simultaneously, this technological progress enables the deployment of advanced defensive measures, such as real-time anomaly detection, intelligent authentication, and automated incident response, empowering us to detect, evade, or neutralise threats with unprecedented efficiency.
Implementing and managing generative AI systems may require specialised skills that SMBs with small IT teams might lack. Training or hiring professionals with expertise in AI and cybersecurity could strain limited budgets. Therefore it may leave SMBs behind in this trend.
In the ongoing conflict landscape, exemplified by the enduring war in Ukraine now entering its third year, the prevalence of state-sponsored cyber attacks on both military and civilian infrastructure is starkly revealed in 2024. This trend is likely to persist globally, becoming an integral component of military operations worldwide.
Common tactics involve phishing attacks, strategically crafted to infiltrate systems for disruptive and espionage purposes, and distributed denial-of-service attacks aimed at crippling communications, public utilities, transport, and security infrastructure.
Notably, the conflict between Hamas and Israel adds another dimension to this evolving scenario. Beyond the theaters of war, the year 2024 will witness major elections in countries such as the US, UK, and India, prompting an anticipated surge in cyber attacks designed to disrupt the democratic process.
Increasingly, governments and organisations are recognising the severe threats posed by cyber threats to national security and economic growth. The potential social and political repercussions of large-scale data breaches are also a significant factor driving the development of new regulations for cybersecurity.
For instance, UK businesses have until April 2024 to comply with the Product Security and Telecommunications Act, which outlines minimum security requirements for networked devices (for instance, they cannot be shipped with a default password). While the implementation of the EU's comparable Radio Equipment Directive has been postponed until 2025, the subject is likely to remain a legislative priority throughout 2024.
While these regulations aim to enhance cybersecurity practices and protect sensitive data, they can pose challenges for SMBs, which form the backbone of most economies. Implementing recommended security measures, such as data encryption, multi-factor authentication, and vulnerability management, requires investments in software, hardware, and personnel. These expenses can strain SMB budgets, especially for those operating on tight margins.
In 2024, cybersecurity will no longer be a niche concern confined to the IT department but rather a strategic priority that encompasses all levels of an organisation. As such, there is a need to integrate a dedicated chief information security officer (CISO) into the C-suite, with an expanding role that goes beyond traditional IT security responsibilities.
These CISOs will be required to develop more soft skills such as communication, public speaking, and leadership skills. This will allow them to effectively communicate cyber threats and risks to the board and other stakeholders. It will also enable them to work closely with other C-suite executives to develop business strategies that incorporate cybersecurity considerations from the outset.
This proactive approach will enable organisations to move beyond reactive defence, meaning that they can act on new business opportunities that come with being prepared.
Incorporating CISOs into the C-suite is a critical step towards achieving organisational cybersecurity resilience. As a result, CISOs will be required to develop more soft skills, such as effective communication and leadership, to facilitate collaboration between various stakeholders. This will allow them to contribute meaningfully to the development of business strategies incorporating cybersecurity considerations, and ultimately, position organisations for success in the face of ever-evolving cyber threats. This shift in approach is necessary to maintain a competitive edge in an increasingly digitalised world.
While these top five trends set the stage for 2024, the cybersecurity landscape is constantly evolving, introducing new threats and opportunities.
We can expect to see even more sophisticated phishing and social engineering attacks, powered by the advancement of generative AI and deepfake technology. IoT attacks, already a growing concern, will likely become even more prevalent as the number of connected devices continues to skyrocket. These devices, often designed for ease of use rather than secure operations, provide an abundance of attack vectors for cybercriminals to exploit.
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