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IBM’s Cybersecurity Trends For 2024

IBM’s annual cybersecurity predictions have arrived, and there are a few surprises that have made the list.

The year 2023 proved to be a rollercoaster ride, with global events and economic shifts shaping an unpredictable landscape. The field of cybersecurity was no exception, witnessing unexpected developments that are sure to influence strategies in 2024. As organisations gear up to plan their security approaches for the coming year, it’s crucial to look back at the lessons learned and anticipate the evolving challenges ahead.

GenAI: A Surprising Headliner

Kicking off the year, Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI) took the cybersecurity spotlight, catching many by surprise. Its diverse applications had a profound impact, creating ripples across the cybersecurity realm. Notably, a data breach involving ChatGPT underscored the risks associated with this emerging technology. Concurrently, cybersecurity professionals embraced AI tools to fortify their defenses against evolving threats.

Ransomware's Resilience and Evolving Targets

Ransomware maintained a strong presence throughout the year, with a noteworthy surge in March witnessing a staggering 400 attacks. Local governments became prime targets, facing over 34 attacks, including a critical systems shutdown in Dallas. On a positive note, the U.S. government responded with the release of the NIST Cybersecurity Framework 2.0, and the White House unveiled a cybersecurity plan to safeguard critical infrastructure.

Experts' Insights for 2024

Leading cybersecurity experts provided valuable insights into the upcoming trends for 2024. Charles Henderson, Global Head of IBM X-Force, highlighted the anticipated rise of disinformation campaigns, driven by geopolitical tensions and major global events. GenAI, according to Henderson, will revolutionise cybercriminals’ approach to “customer acquisition,” streamlining the identification and profiling of potential targets.

Doppelgänger Users and the Identity Challenge

Dustin Heywood, Chief Architect of IBM X-Force, predicted a rise in “doppelgänger” users in enterprise environments, emphasising the weaponisation of identity by attackers. With millions of legitimate enterprise credentials available on the Dark Web, abnormal user behavior becomes a crucial indicator of compromise. This trend is expected to intensify in 2024, necessitating a renewed focus on security and password hygiene.


AI-Powered Cyberattacks and Ransomware's Transformation

John Dwyer, Head of Research at IBM X-Force, discussed the potential emergence of an AI-driven cyberattack reminiscent of the historic Morris Worm. While ransomware may face a recession in 2024 due to decreasing ransom payments, Dwyer predicted a shift towards high-pressure data extortion attacks. Ransomware, he suggested, will undergo a transformation, with a possible pivot towards targeting consumers and small businesses.

GenAI's Impact on Security Analysts

Chris Meenan, Vice President of Product Management at IBM Security, highlighted the role of Generative AI in maximizing human contributions to security. In 2024, GenAI is expected to streamline administrative tasks, enabling security analysts to focus on more complex challenges. Meenan emphasised the integration of GenAI into workflows to enhance analysts’ capabilities.

The Quantum Threat: Preparing for Quantum-Safe Cryptography

As quantum computing inches closer to cryptographic relevance, Ray Harishankar, IBM Fellow in Quantum Safe, warned about the vulnerability of classical systems to “harvest now, decrypt later” attacks. With quantum advancements, such attacks are predicted to become more prevalent. Organisations are urged to prepare for the transition to quantum-safe cryptography, as the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) works on developing new standards expected in early 2024.


Wrapping it all up...

The twists and turns of 2023 set the stage for a dynamic year in cybersecurity. As we step into 2024, the landscape promises new challenges and surprises. By reflecting on the past and heeding the insights of cybersecurity experts, organisations can fortify their defenses and navigate the evolving threats on the digital horizon. Strategic planning and agility will be paramount in ensuring a resilient cybersecurity posture in the face of the unknown.

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