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2024 Cybersecurity Predictions from Barracuda's Frontline Experts

As we bid farewell to 2023, it's crucial to take stock of the cybersecurity landscape and glean insights into what lies ahead. At Barracuda Networks, they have once again turned to their frontline security experts, including XDR specialists, offensive security professionals, international product experts, and their own security operations team. Here's a recap of what surprised us in 2023 and what we anticipate for 2024. 

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Lessons from 2023: A Year of Surprises and Challenges

 

Social Engineering Takes Center Stage

Adam Khan, VP of Global Security Operations, sheds light on the MGM attack orchestrated by Scattered Spider. The use of social engineering to manipulate help desk employees led to a $100 million ransomware attack on MGM Resorts. This incident underscored the persistent threat of social engineering as a potent cyberweapon. 

Click here to learn more about our picks for the Top 5 Cyberattacks in 2023!

Business Email Compromises on the Rise

Merium Khalid, Director of SOC Offensive Security, notes the surge in business email compromises (BEC), nearly rivaling the frequency of ransomware attacks. This highlights the evolving tactics of cybercriminals who adapt to organizations' strengthened defenses against ransomware by exploiting BEC as an equally lucrative avenue. 

 

Cybersecurity Talent Shortage Reaches Critical Levels

Jesus Cordero, Director of Systems Engineering, SASE and Cloud, draws attention to the alarming increase in open cybersecurity positions globally. With nearly 4 million unfilled roles, the industry faces a 350% growth in the talent gap from 2021 to 2023, emphasizing the pressing need for skilled professionals. 

 

Data Protection Still Overlooked

Charles Smith, Consulting Solutions Engineer, Data Protection, EMEA, expresses concern over companies neglecting data protection. Organizations are failing to invest in adequate solutions and lack confidence in their data protection and recovery plans. 

Unawareness Among Smaller Companies

 

Rohit Aradhya, VP and Managing Director, Engineering, highlights the lack of awareness among smaller companies regarding the impending threats to their digital assets. A general lack of understanding about the importance of cybersecurity poses a significant risk. 

 

Persistent Web Application Security Gap

 

Stefan van der Wal, Consulting Solutions Architect, Application Security, EMEA, observes a persistent lack of knowledge and motivation within organizations to address web application security, despite the evident success of hackers in exploiting vulnerabilities. 

 

Supply Chain Attacks on the Rise

 

Emre Tezisci, Product Marketing Manager, Zero Trust, notes the rapid increase in the sophistication and the frequency of supply chain attacks. The MOVEit mass cyberattack, exploiting software exploits and IT supply chain weaknesses, impacted millions of individuals and thousands of companies. 

 

The Concerning Lack of Cybersecurity Preparedness

 

Mark Lukie, Director of Solution Architects, APAC, emphasizes the concerning lack of cybersecurity preparedness among companies, with many still not taking the need for robust protection seriously.

 

Anticipating 2024: Security Concerns and Predictions

 

As we approach 2024, security professionals express their concerns and predictions. Continue reading to find out what they are.

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Evolving AI Threats

 

  • Adam Khan: Anticipates AI-powered cyberattacks leveraging machine learning for increased sophistication.

  • Merium Khalid: Highlights the growing threat of MFA bypass, zero-day vulnerabilities, and cloud-based risks. 

  • Charles Smith: Companies worry about the potential compromise of backup solutions during cyberattacks.

  • Emre Tezisci: Emphasizes the increasing speed of cyberattacks, driven by account takeover, phishing and ransomware-as-a-service.

  • Rohit Aradhya: Businesses seek a comprehensive security platform to address diverse threats. 

  • Jesus Cordero: The challenge of managing numerous cybersecurity solutions and legacy technologies.

  • Mark Lukie: Ongoing concerns about ransomware, phishing, and data breaches, with a focus on new technologies. 

 

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Unpreparedness for Advanced Attacks

 

Security professionals reveal areas where organizations are least prepared:

  • Stefan Schachinger: Organizations ill-equipped to defend against targeted, high-quality attacks, especially those utilizing AI.

  • Charles Smith: Lack of preparedness in testing data loss prevention (DLP) and recovery solutions.

  • Emre Tezisci: Unpreparedness for AI-driven attacks and accelerated automation in cyber threats.

  • Merium Khalid: MFA bypass as a newer and increasingly sophisticated challenge.

  • Sheila Hara: Image-based attacks, including steganographic payloads and malicious watermarking.

  • Rohit Aradhya: Absence of a standard playbook for dealing with ransomware incidents.

  • Jesus Cordero: Unprepared IT teams relying on legacy technologies to protect against intelligent and persistent threats. 

 

Check out the 5 key things to include in your ransomware incident response plan!

 

Predicted Focus of Attackers in 2024

Security experts share their insights into what attackers are expected to prioritize:

  • Adam Khan: Anticipates a focus on AI-powered cyberattacks for enhanced sophistication.

  • Merium Khalid:  AI-powered attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated and targeted. Cyber attackers are harnessing the power of advanced AI algorithms to automate their attack methods, resulting in greater efficiency, scalability, and stealth. These AI-driven attacks have the ability to adapt in real-time, learning from the defensive measures they encounter and devising innovative ways to evade detection. Additionally, ransomware attacks are evolving into more focused campaigns, with cybercriminals setting their sights on critical infrastructure and high-value targets. Their aim is to cause maximum disruption and demand exorbitant ransoms in return.

  • Peterson Gutierrez: Cybercriminals have been investing significant effort in account takeover attacks throughout 2023. It is expected that this trend will continue in 2024, with threat actors making identities their primary target. By attacking identities, cybercriminals gain multiple opportunities to launch additional attacks, making it a strategic pivot point for their malicious activities.

  • Emre Tezisci: Cyber attackers will persist in their focus on attack kits and account takeover attacks, as they recognize the difficulty in preventing all employees from falling victim to the ever-growing sophistication of phishing emails.

  • Sheila Hara: Looking ahead to 2024, new threats driven by technology advancements, geopolitical events, and evolving attacker tactics are expected. One emerging threat is the use of deepfake and synthetic media attacks, where cybercriminals manipulate media for disinformation and impersonation.

    Ransomware, supply chain attacks, and data privacy breaches will persist and escalate, while attackers may increasingly target IoT and operational technology vulnerabilities. Stay vigilant as the cybersecurity landscape continues to evolve.

  • Rohit Aradhya: Attackers are shifting toward small and mid-market businesses as they are aware of the increased digitization and lack of cybersecurity professionals in the market.

  • Stefan van der Wal: Attackers will keep exploiting the weakest links within businesses. As always, cybercriminals are interested in the path of least resistance. This means organizations need to make sure they have an overarching strategy ready to deal with all vectors rather than focus on one.

  • Jesus Cordero: I see two trends. The first one is the continuation of the usual threat vectors as attackers know that companies are both understaffed with inexperienced IT teams and grappling with possibly legacy, outdated, or misconfigured solutions.

    The second one is the natural evolution of technology — as we enhance our security assets with AI-based solutions, we are automatically creating new attack vectors that are crafted based on the quality of results of generative AI itself.

     

The Role of Security Vendors in the Age of AI-Enabled Attacks

Security experts discuss the evolving landscape, and the role security vendors must play:

  • Merium Khalid: The inherent adaptability of AI-driven threats, which can analyze defenses and recalibrate their tactics in real time, challenges the traditional preventive measures. Security vendors must equip organizations with tools not only for rapid breach detection, but also for understanding the scope and containing the threat swiftly.

  • Sheila Hara: Security vendors need to evolve beyond a purely preventative approach and embrace a more holistic strategy that includes detection, response, recovery, and continuous improvement. 

 

Conclusion

 

As we step into 2024, the cybersecurity landscape remains dynamic and challenging. Organizations must adapt swiftly, leveraging the insights of industry experts and robust security solutions to stay ahead of evolving threats. Datalink Networks and Barracuda remain committed to empowering businesses with the knowledge and tools needed to navigate the ever-changing cybersecurity terrain. Stay tuned for more updates and insights as we continue to navigate the digital frontier together. 

 

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