Digital transformations in the year ahead will be led by organizations pursuing a pioneering edge from the integration of emergent technologies. Advances in cloud technology, artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML), and Web3 are poised to reshape the threat landscape, giving it new frontiers outside the purview of traditional defenses. However, these technological developments are only as efficient as the IT structures that support them. In 2024, business leaders will have to take measures to ensure that their organization’s systems and processes are equipped to stay in step with these modern solutions — not to mention the newfound security challenges that come with implementing and securing them.
As the new year draws closer, decision-makers will need to stay on top of key trends and priority areas in enterprise cybersecurity if they are to make room for growth and fend off any upcoming threats along their innovation journey. In this blog entry, we discuss predictions from Trend Micro’s team of security experts about the drivers of change that will figure prominently next year.
Misconfigurations will allow cybercriminals to scale up their attacks using cloud-native worms
Enterprises should come into 2024 prepared to ensure that their cloud resources can’t be turned against them in “living-off-the-cloud” attacks. Security teams need to closely monitor cloud environments in anticipation of cyberattacks that, tailored with worming capabilities, can also abuse cloud misconfigurations to gain a foothold in their targets and use rootkits for persistence. Cloud technologies like containerized applications are especially at risk as once infected, these can serve as a launchpad from which attackers can spread malicious payloads to other accounts and services. Given their ability to infect multiple containers at once, leverage vulnerabilities at scale, and automate various tasks like reconnaissance, exploitation, and achieving persistence, worms will endure as a prominent tactic among cybercriminals next year.
AI-generated media will give rise to more sophisticated social engineering scams
The gamut of use cases for generative AI will be a boon not only for enterprises but also for fraudsters seeking new ways of profiteering in 2024. Though they’re often behind the curve when it comes to new technologies, expect cybercriminals — swayed by the potential of lucrative pay — to incorporate AI-generated lures as part of their upgraded social engineering attacks. Notably, despite the shutdown of malicious large language model (LLM) tool WormGPT, similar tools could still emerge from the dark web. In the interim, cybercriminals will also continue to find other ways to circumvent the limitations of legitimate AI tools available online. In addition to their use of digital impostors that combine various AI-powered tools in emerging threats like virtual kidnapping, we predict that malicious actors will resort specifically to voice cloning in more targeted attacks.
The rising tide of data poisoning will be a scourge on ML models under training
Integrating machine-learning (ML) models into their operations promises to be a real game changer for businesses that are banking on the potential of these models to supercharge innovation and productivity. As we step into 2024, attempts to corrupt the training data of these models will start gaining ground. Threat actors will likely carry out these attacks by taking advantage of a model’s data-collection phase or by compromising its data storage or data pipeline infrastructure. Specialized models using focused datasets will also be more vulnerable to data poisoning than LLMs and generative AI models trained on extensive datasets, which will prompt security practitioners to pay closer attention to the risks associated with tapping into external resources for ML training data.
Attackers will take aim at software supply chains through their CI/CD pipelines
Software supply chains will have a target on their back in 2024, as cybercriminals will aim to infiltrate them through their continuous integration and delivery (CI/CD) systems. For example, despite their use in expediting software development, components and code sourced from third-party libraries and containers are not without security risks, such as lacking thorough security audits, containing malicious or outdated components, or harboring overlooked vulnerabilities that could open the door to code-injection attacks. The call for developers to be wary of anything sourced from third parties will therefore remain relevant next year. Similarly, to safeguard the resilience of critical software development pipelines and weed out bugs in the coming year, DevOps practitioners should exercise caution and conduct routine scans of any external code they plan to use.
New extortion schemes and criminal gangs will be built around the blockchain
Whereas public blockchains are hardened by continuous cyberattacks, the same can’t be said of their permissioned counterparts because of the latter’s centralized nature. This lack of hard-won resilience will drive malicious actors to develop new extortion business models specific to private blockchains next year. In such extortion operations, criminals could use stolen keys to insert malicious data or modify existing records on the blockchain and then demand a payoff to stay mum on the attack. Threat actors can also strong-arm their victims into paying the ransom by wresting control of enough nodes to encrypt an entire private blockchain. As for criminal groups, we predict that 2024 will see the debut of the first criminal organizations running entirely on blockchains with smart contract or decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs).
Countering future cyberthreats
Truly transformative technologies inevitably cross the threshold into standard business operations. But as they make that transition from novel to industry norm, newly adopted tools and solutions require additional layers of protection if they are to contribute to an enterprise’s expansion. So long as their security stance is anchored on preparedness and due diligence, organizations stand to reap the benefits from a growing IT stack without exposing themselves to unnecessary risks. To learn more about the key security considerations and challenges that lie ahead for organizations and end users, read our report, “Critical Scalability: Trend Micro Security Predictions for 2024.”