With the seemingly endless increase in cybersecurity attacks on large and small businesses alike, the need to keep your organization’s cybersecurity game strong is more crucial than ever. If organizations wish to continue growing and operating, they must adapt. In this blog post, we’ll discuss these four cybersecurity trends of 2024 to help you navigate this landscape, where the stakes are high and the challenges are complex:
- Trend 1: Increased Sophistication and Volume of Cyber Attacks
- Trend 2: Targeting Small Businesses
- Trend 3: Privacy and AI in 2024
- Trend 4: Third-Party Risk and Vendor Scrutiny From Small and Large Companies
- 10 Takeaways to Build a Risk-Based Security Program in 2024
Our digital world is going through a renaissance; new technology is democratizing access to sophisticated tools, for better and for worse. In addition, macroeconomic factors have contributed to a run-up in inflation around the globe, spurring central banks to increase rates – which has created incentives and opportunities for bad actors to leverage cybercrime for profit. We saw big breaches in the news in 2023. A Statista report that surveyed professionals from organizations with 500+ employees stated that, “As of 2023, over 72 percent of businesses worldwide were affected by ransomware attacks. This figure represents an increase from the previous five years and was by far the highest figure reported.”
But why? Quite frankly, with even more incentives to execute cyber attacks like ransomware, we are seeing an increase in organized criminal organizations that have their hands in everything from extortion to weapons trade, using cybercrime as a revenue stream fueled by black market AI products. In a world where regulators are often playing catch-up, bad actors have the significant advantage of access to a global market of targets with more tech tools to help execute their programs against niche targets, leading to more success for them.
When big corporations are breached, the news splashes major headlines across traditional and new media, but often, small businesses are the ones being targeted by cybercriminals with less news coverage. As we mentioned earlier, with incentives and ample opportunities, it appears small businesses are and will continue to be targeted. Since the majority of businesses in 2023 are required to have an online presence to stay competitive, there is a continuously new pool of victims to choose from. Look no further than in our own country. In Quebec, Canada, 60% of SMBs were attacked by cybercriminals in 2023 alone. Coupled with the fact that the type of business least likely to be prepared and capable of dealing with a security breach are these small businesses, makes them an easy target for bad actors because they are likely to pay the ransom to salvage their business. We are seeing similar increases in cyberattack frequency on small businesses in Europe, the US, and Australia:
In Europe, a report by the European Digital SME Alliance highlighted a significant rise in ransomware attacks on SMBs, with an increase from 112 in 2022 to 175 in 2023. This escalation was particularly evident in countries like France, Germany, Italy, and Spain.
In the United States, an ITRC report revealed that 73% of surveyed small business owners encountered a cyberattack in 2023. This figure represents the highest percentage in the report’s three-year lifespan and a 3% increase from 2022. The consequences of these cyberattacks included revenue losses, erosion of customer trust, and increased employee turnover.
Mastercard found that in Australia, up to 309,000 small businesses reported experiencing cybersecurity issues, with 33% suffering financial losses as a result. However, due to rising cost pressures, 31% of these businesses were forced to cut cybersecurity expenses. This reduction in cybersecurity investment is particularly concerning, given the increasing frequency of cyberattacks. While over half of the small business leaders were concerned about the risk, many found it too costly to invest in cybersecurity.
The increasing frequency of cyberattacks on small businesses across the world highlights a critical need for these enterprises to enhance their cybersecurity measures. Despite financial constraints, prioritizing cybersecurity is essential for safeguarding against financial losses and maintaining customer trust. The trends observed in Canada, Europe, the United States, and Australia demonstrate the global nature of this threat and the urgency with which small businesses must address their cyber vulnerabilities.
With AI racing ahead, privacy and security regulations are doing a bit of catch-up. The impact of generative AI in 2023 has been nothing short of transformative. The strides made in the field last year have brought AI, ML, and LLM systems to the mainstream, but this is a double-edged sword. Governments around the world are scrambling to put regulations in place to preserve user privacy in a world where more and more of people’s data is being dumped into these AI, ML, and LLM systems without truly understanding what the impacts and consequences can be when so much data is centralized into new technologies. 2024 will be a crucial year for organizations to adapt to the reactive regulations and rules that will appear to contain AI products and protect people’s privacy.
In a digital era where third-party vendors are increasingly prevalent, organizations must navigate the inherited risks from working with external vendors. And external vendors must be ready to ease security worries by providing real security, not just box-checking exercises. Going forward, as enterprises aggressively vet their external vendors for security and privacy best practices, providing a SOC 2 attestation might soon be too little too late to close deals. Instead, organizations should focus on a risk-based approach to security that takes the SOC 2 suggestions further by meeting the requirements created by the new threat environments. By doing so, organizations can comply with multiple frameworks simultaneously and create a security foundation that is agile and capable of adapting, updating, and scaling its approach as needed. We believe this new way of building security is the future. One that is based on risk and real security not simply waiting for a customer to ask for a certification or attestation. It’s evident that a more sophisticated approach to vendor scrutiny is going to be adopted by large enterprise players, one that aligns with the rapidly evolving tech and puts companies on a path to success against potential threats. It’s not just about protecting your organization; it’s about future-proofing it.
- Invest in Advanced Security Tools: With cyber-attacks becoming more sophisticated, investing in state-of-the-art security tools is vital. Look for solutions that use AI and machine learning for proactive threat detection.
- Regular Training and Awareness Programs: Conduct regular training for employees to recognize and respond to cyber threats. Awareness is a critical defense against sophisticated attacks.
- Implement Rigorous Cyber Hygiene Practices: Regularly update software, use strong passwords, and enforce multi-factor authentication to minimize vulnerabilities. Use data encryption and anonymization techniques to enhance privacy.
- Develop a Tailored Cybersecurity Strategy: Businesses should create cybersecurity strategies that address their specific vulnerabilities.
- Allocate Budget for Cybersecurity: Even with financial constraints, it’s essential to allocate a budget for cybersecurity measures.
- Regular Security Assessments: Conduct regular security assessments to identify and address vulnerabilities.
- Stay Informed About AI Regulations: Keep abreast of new AI regulations to ensure compliance and protect customer data.
- Involve Stakeholders in Your Cybersecurity Strategy: Engage stakeholders in discussions about cybersecurity and AI integration to address potential privacy concerns.
- Conduct Comprehensive Vendor Assessments: Perform in-depth security assessments of third-party vendors before collaboration.
- Demand Transparency from Vendors: Require vendors to be transparent about their security practices and compliance with standards.
Next Steps for 2024
Traditional approaches to cybersecurity are no longer sufficient. Increased attack sophistication, targeting of small businesses, privacy challenges in AI, and the need for rigorous third-party risk management all point towards a future where a risk-based security program is essential. The Carbide platform automates all the tedium that comes with managing a security program, and our team of security experts provides expert guidance for when you get stuck in the complexity that comes with complying with multiple security frameworks. Talk with our team today to get started on your security journey this year.