Although the threat landscape is ever-evolving, the most significant risks information technology (IT) teams will face in 2024 are already apparent. Here are the top cybersecurity threats they will have to contend with in coming years.
For years, phishing has been one of the top cybersecurity threats. On average, 95% of security incidents begin with someone clicking on a malicious link. Although many IT professionals have hoped to leave this attack type in the past, it made a swift comeback because of artificial intelligence.
Now that attackers can use AI to craft grammatically correct, error-free emails, the traditional prevention methods are outdated. In 2022, people submitted roughly 300,500 phishing reports to the U.S. Internet Crime Complaint Center — the most out of any other cybercrime. More are falling for it because it has become much more challenging to spot.
On average, roughly 17% of people were fooled by a phishing attack in 2021 and ended up clicking a malicious link. When the attacker used social engineering methods, that figure tripled to over 50%. IT professionals need to create new training material and improve current security measures to protect their companies.
2. Third-Party Attacks
Even if an organization has the most robust security possible, there’s no guarantee their vendors are as secure. In 2022, almost 50% of companies were the victims of a cyber attack because of third parties, which is a 7% increase from 2021. Whether they use a cloud service or share data with a hardware supplier, they’re at risk.
Of course, IT professionals already do enough work to manage their own organization’s security — it’s unreasonable to expect them to monitor an external servicer to combat one of the top cybersecurity threats. Still, if they are going to remain secure in 2024, they must reinforce the importance of compliance with their third-party vendors.
While ransomware has plagued the world for years, it will likely have a much more substantial impact in the coming years. Cybersecurity Ventures predicts it will cost $265 billion annually by 2031. Moreover, they expect attacks to occur every two seconds in the same period — which would make it the fastest-evolving cybercrime.
Even if only one employee clicks a malicious link, the entire organization is at risk. This fact is especially true when considering how the number of malware variants increased by 650 million between 2010 and 2020. Naturally, IT professionals have had trouble keeping up with this rapid evolution.
In the past, ransomware attacks focused on a payment-for-decryption model. Now, attackers threaten to sell or publicize the data because they know the fallout of nonpayment — reputational damage, compliance-related fines and deteriorated consumer trust — is often the worse choice.
4. Insider Threats
Most organizations are so focused on external dangers they don’t realize their own employees pose a significant risk. In 2023, around 30% of CISOs named insider threats one of the year’s top cybersecurity threats. That being said, they aren’t malicious in most cases. Rather, they’re careless or reckless — human error is usually the root cause of security incidents.
The lack of skilled professionals will make insider threats much more prominent. Despite the fact skill scarcity will cause over 50% of security incidents by 2025, the cybersecurity labor shortage already reached 3.4 million openings in 2022. With more people taking on larger workloads, industry leaders can expect the risk level to increase.
Already, professionals face high demand and feel intense pressure. In 2021, around 51% of IT decision-makers believed their alert volume was overwhelming, with 55% unable to respond to each warning appropriately. Feeling fatigued or burned out makes them much more likely to unintentionally become insider threats.
Although negligent employees cause 60% of data breaches, only 8% of a cybersecurity budget goes toward managing them. Since they will likely be among the top cybersecurity threats throughout 2024 and beyond, IT professionals and industry leaders should seriously consider addressing skill shortages and lightening workloads.
Although the Internet of Things has been an exciting development, it’s almost equally as dangerous. Loose cybersecurity regulations, well-known vulnerabilities, increased attack surfaces and weak security protocols make it the perfect target for attackers.
Already, attackers have used this technology to their advantage. There were over 112 million IoT cyber attacks in 2022 alone, a sharp increase from the mere 32 million four years prior. While most IT professionals are aware of the risks, it still remains one of the top cybersecurity threats.
6. DDoS Attacks
Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks typically leverage a botnet to overload a system with traffic and bring operations to a grinding halt. Since the rise of IoT has led to stronger botnets, they have been growing more frequent and severe — making them one of the top cybersecurity threats of 2024.
According to one IT company, the number of HTTP DDoS attacks increased by 65% between the third and fourth quarter of 2023, totaling over 8.9 trillion individual instances. Botnets have targeted financial, gaming, telecommunications and cryptocurrency sectors most frequently.
Notably, the frequency isn’t the only aspect of this cybercrime that will increase in 2024. While the average length of DDoS-related downtime was merely half an hour in 2021, it increased to 50 hours by 2022. As botnets like Mirai grow more prominent, they will likely have a more substantial impact on their targets.
7. Credential Attacks
Although credential attacks haven’t typically been among the top cybersecurity threats in recent years, they’re becoming more prominent. In 2021, over 60% of data breaches leveraged stolen credentials. This kind of cybercrime will continue to be prevalent as long as human error exists and employees continue to use poor password practices.
Even if an attacker only steals one person’s credentials, the risk is still extremely high. Since data breach resolution takes 277 days on average — 207 to detect and 70 to control — they could do an unthinkable amount of damage. Frankly, they could scrape more login details and sell them to others, immediately opening up the organization for future attacks.
IT Teams Need to Prepare for Top Cybersecurity Threats
If IT teams can prepare for these risks in the first quarter of 2024, they’ll have a much better chance of making it through the year with minimal breaches and attacks. Even though no security measure guarantees 100% protection, safeguarding against the biggest threats will undoubtedly help.
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