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What are the Expected Changes and Challenges Regarding Cyber Threat and Risk Management in 2024?

What should organizations expect in 2024 surrounding the growth of cybersecurity attacks from generative AI? 


Will state-sponsored cyber armies replace physical battlefield soldiers in times of conflict? What role will artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) play in reducing the impact of adversarial automated attacks?


These questions revolve around the reality that the global cybersecurity threat landscape will continue to become unpredictable and filled with sophisticated AI-enabled cyber attacks. 

How will Cyber Threat and Risk Management Landscape Change in 2024?

According to a recent study by the Diligent Institute and Corporate Board Member, 51% of directors say they have discussed AI more frequently and in more detail over the past year. Additionally, 31% say they are seeking education on the benefits and risks of AI, and 75% see AI playing a role in the boardroom in the future.


In 2024, organizations investing in a more proactive collaboration between the board of directors and executive leadership will be in a better situation than those that continue to be reactive.


Organization leaders, including the board of directors, must adopt a more formal agility mindset to cope with the new cyber risks in 2024. Their approach to cybersecurity and the increase in potential vulnerabilities will pose short and long-term effects on their organization’s choice to remain status quo regarding cybersecurity, risk management, and compliance mandate governance in past years.

Predicting the Unpredictable Threat from AI and ML

Undoubtedly, cyber threats powered by AI and ML attacking zero-day vulnerabilities will dominate the enterprise, government, and high-education landscape in 2024. Hackers empowering themselves with their version of ChatGPT continue to invest in these tools to give them an advantage over the organization’s security operations (SecOps) teams and globally managed security service providers (MSSP). Both teams expect to see an increase in adversarial AI attacks in 2024. Many organizations recognize the risk to the user, customers, and partners if they do not make similar AI and ML investments.


According to a report by Risk and Insurance, “There is an increased interest from potential criminal actors, as the volume of posts regarding ChatGPT in dark web forums increased 145% from January to February 2023.”


Hackers continue to develop Large Language Models (LLM) with data they stole from their victims or security telemetry data captured from their previous attacks. This telemetry data helps hackers learn from the latest sophisticated cyberattacks with their various methods that were effective or became blocked as a result of the victim organization’s adaptive control protection layers.

Will the Board of Directors Take on a More Direct Role in Cybersecurity Risk in 2024?

Organizations, including their board of directors, must take a more active role in cybersecurity risk in 2024. This active role should include a more cohesive bond between the investment in cybersecurity protection, compliance, and the need to lower the overall risk to the organization. Gaining a better understanding of the cost of a security breach, additional executive board oversight, and increased human capital resources will require more investment to deal with the risk of adversarial AI. 


The increase in cyberattacks leading into 2024 should not come as a complete surprise to most organizations’ boards of directors and executive leaders. 


As more organizations complete their digital transformation journey, this progression to a new business operating process creates additional attack surface risks. With the additional attack surface exposure, organizations will have an increase in new cyberattack methods not seen in previous years.


One of the most volatile areas in 2024 is third-party platform providers. Many digital transformation strategies contain tools hosted by third-party cloud providers, cloud-based applications, and hosted identity management services. Organizations leveraging the platforms have become part of a possible extended kill chain originating within these third-party platforms.

The OKTA Breach

On October 19, Okta, a prominent identity and access management (IAM) services provider offering tools like multi-factor authentication and single sign-on, disclosed adversarial activity. This activity involved using a stolen credential to access Okta’s support case management system, potentially exposing sensitive customer data. The issue was brought to attention when BeyondTrust, one of Okta’s customers, detected unusual activity in early October. Okta initially stated that less than one percent of its 18,000+ customers stole sensitive data.  


Okta did revise its statement later. The company revealed that the data breach impacted 100% of its customer base, and leaked information included company names, contact details, user names, role descriptions, and other miscellaneous data.

The SolarWinds Breach

“The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) has charged SolarWinds Corporation, a software company based in Austin, Texas, and its chief information security officer, Timothy G. Brown, with fraud and internal control failures.”


The charges are related to alleged cybersecurity risks and vulnerabilities the company was aware of. According to the complaint, SolarWinds and Brown deceived investors by exaggerating their cybersecurity practices and downplaying or not disclosing known risks. 

During the relevant period, SolarWinds reportedly provided misleading information to investors by only mentioning general and hypothetical risks despite being aware of specific deficiencies and the increasing risks the company faces. 

What is the Projected Cost from Cyberattacks in 2024, and How Will This Affect the Decision to Increase Cybersecurity Risk?

The cost of cybersecurity continues to extend its measurement beyond on a per-event basis. These new measurements extend into other microcosms within the enterprise and cloud-based systems. As more organizations shift from on-premise data centers to hosted cloud providers, the risk of cyberattacks increases. 


The IBM 2023 security report stated that cloud vulnerabilities grew over 150% in the last five years. According to the report, 82% of breaches in 2023 involved data stored in the cloud. Furthermore, breaches spanning multiple environments incurred an average cost of USD 4.75 million.


Similar to the IBM report, “Verizon stated in their Data Breach Investigation Report (DBIR) for 2024 that web application exploits caused 23 over 90% of the 29,000 breaches.”

This dichotomy is a harsh reality for many organizations and the board of directors. The board and the executive leaders worked off the industry-wide accepted narrative that moving to the cloud starting in 2004 would save the organization money while creating a more agile and flexible rapid deployment strategy. The cloud did help organizations reduce costs for utilities associated with maintaining their data center. 


These costs slowly shifted to more expensive line items, including data ingress, additional cybersecurity protection tools, and increased human capital costs.


In 2024, the board of directors and executive leaders face the prospect of spending more money to protect their cloud-based assets by hiring or outsourcing expensive data analytics engineers, AI and ML engineers, and the possibility of hiring an MSSP provider to assist with incident response, monitoring, and threat hunting. These costs are very much in flux depending on the expected and unexpected changes in the global risk and cybersecurity landscape. The growth of complex AI-powered ransomware attacks will affect all organizations and add to the influx of new challenges in 2024

Increased Ransomware Attacks on the Users and Cloud Infrastructure

In 2024, ransomware threat actors are expected to adopt a more opportunistic mindset, quickly exploiting newly found vulnerabilities within a day. Using automated scanners, they will target multiple networks and then manually evaluate them to decide on the best way to profit and choose the appropriate attack method. 


As businesses increasingly rely on cloud services, the impact of cloud-based ransomware attacks can be catastrophic, potentially leading to massive data loss, operational disruption, and damage to their respective brand. Cybersecurity leaders, business owners, and the board of directors must ensure that cloud services are secure and resilient against potential threats, with a comprehensive approach to handle cyberattack increases.

The board of directors will continue to strengthen in 2024 to align better with the organization’s decisions and the strategy direction of its cybersecurity posture. Investment in cybersecurity tools, monitoring services, and human capital is one of many expected expenditures. Increases in cyber insurance, lawsuits from shareholders and customers for material data breaches, and constant challenges in retaining top talent are all items board members are expected to add to their current organization oversight. 


One area expected to become a top target is the Software Supply Chain and third-party Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) hosts. As more organizations increase their dependency on in-house and outsourced software development, hackers leveraging their AI tools will target third-party software platform firms and cloud-based software library depositories. The hackers will also continue to use social engineering attack methods to exploit people within their organization to grant them access to these critical systems.


Many board members have recruited executive cybersecurity talent to become part of the executive or committees supporting risk management and security. This decision will become even more critical as organizations continue to be affected by global attacks, costing their organizations millions of dollars per cyber incident even with advanced technology and cybersecurity measures enabled.


Should you need help or advice at the board level, please contact – Cubic Consulting at Help involves personal training, risk meeting preparation, cybersecurity strategy review, etc.

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Cubic Lighthouse is a cybersecurity publication dedicated to demystifying security, making news actionable, providing deeper thinking about the fundamentals of security, and providing decision-makers and the community at large with the right information to make the right decisions. We will also feature more technical articles and provide personal/family security advice.

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