Experts warn that zero-day flaws will be exploited at mass scale, while the adoption of AI technology will lead to a rise in advanced social engineering attacks.

The cybersecurity landscape is always in a state of flux, but certain developments in 2023 shook up the sector.

Constant tech developments led to new threats, with the rise of AI technology creating new ways to defend and attack security systems. A report at the end of 2023 suggest most Irish businesses faced a cyberattack during the year, highlighting the dangers.

Meanwhile, cyberattacks continue to target larger businesses and critical infrastructure, with examples such as the disruption to most of Iran’s petrol stations showing just how damaging and widespread a successful attack can be.

As we move into the unknown of 2024, various cybersecurity experts have shared their predictions for how cybersecurity will evolve this year.

Zero-day flaws will be exploited at scale

With everyday devices getting constant updates, it seems inevitable that vulnerabilities manage to slip through the net and go undiscovered – until either security researchers or attackers manage to find it.

But as cyberattackers and ransomware groups improve their capabilities, Raj Samani – SVP chief scientist at cybersecurity platform Rapid7 – believes zero-day flaws will be exploited more frequently. Samani claims Rapid7 has observed ransomware groups exploiting more zero-day vulnerabilities and that this will be conducted “at scale”.

“This trend is seeing criminal groups that to date have not demonstrated any real capable skills in gaining access to previously unidentified vulnerabilities, exploit them and gain a foothold into victim networks,” Samani said. “This demonstrates that potentially something is afoot in the ransomware ecosystem.

“For organisations, the message is simple: get your vulnerability management and patching procedures in place and do it now.”

The impact of zero-day flaws can be significant, as one of these vulnerabilities on iPhones was used to install Pegasus spyware in recent years. Recent reports suggest other forms of spyware have exploited zero-day vulnerabilities in iPhones.

Cloud will be a battleground

As more companies adopt cloud technology, they also open the door to new avenues of attack. Samani said the cloud will continue to be a cybersecurity “battleground” and raised concerns that commercial cloud service providers (CSPs) will be targeted.

“That’s because cybercriminals are no longer relying on known command-and-control servers,” Samani said. “Instead, they’re turning to commercial CSPs for cover to host malicious content. It’s a clever trend, and it comes back to the game of hide-and-seek, with attackers exploiting the cloud’s anonymity and legitimacy, and blending their activities with legitimate services.

“Combatting this threat requires more innovative solutions, such as those leveraging AI and advanced automation techniques – as well as heightened vigilance – in the cloud.”

AI could cause new risks

Last year, experts predicted that 2023 would see both attackers and defenders utilise AI technology for the purposes of cyberattacks and cybersecurity – a prediction that was proven correct in many cases.

Sabeen Malik, VP of global government affairs and public policy at Rapid7, predicts that more advanced AI and automation techniques promise a way to deal with the growth in cyberattacks, but said it’s important to “not get ahead of ourselves”.

“The inevitable rush to market for some solutions means that some AI capabilities will miss the mark,” Malik said. “Therefore, organisations that adopt AI solutions must ensure that they truly improve cyber resilience without presenting new cyber risks.”

Malik predicted a growth in AI being used to create deepfakes – AI-generated images and videos – and for identity management. Mike Britton, CISO with email security provider Abnormal Security, noted that generative AI is a “double-edged sword” as it can help criminals launch attacks. Britton also raised concerns about deepfake technology.

“The rise of deepfake technology will further complicate social engineering attacks as well,” Britton said. “Today, deepfakes are possible but are not yet a common attack tactic. However, we are right around the corner from seeing them become more widely used by bad actors looking to trick their victims into sharing money or sensitive information.”

Read more at: Silicone Republic