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This year endured a decent dose of cyber immaturity slaps across the face. According to McKinsey & Company, at the current growth rate, damage from cyberattacks will amount to about $10.5 trillion annually by 2025 – a 300% increase from 2015.
Over the last several years, in the run-up to the new year, threats, attacks, and scams have risen, and that won’t be different in 2023. But the devil is in the details. Here are five trends we’ve seen and expect to proliferate:
Cybersecurity in 2023:
Increase in Cyber Threats and Malicious Attacks
More criminal organizations will use cyber force to target critical infrastructure and operational technology. Cybersecurity in 2023 will be different. The level and breadth will be inconspicuous such as hacking transportation devices (i.e., streetlights) or hospital monitoring systems. With recent upticks in malicious attacks against hospitals and patient care establishments, cybercriminal actions can be especially damaging. Such attacks render trickle-down damage not only to the organization under attack but also to the patients at the mercy of the locked-down IT systems. In one incident, a hospital’s digital tools were taken down by ransomware, causing patient overdoses. In another, our team was able to gain access from an uncredentialed network into the ICU at a leading hospital and took control of their life support systems.
Risks from Machine Learning Adaptation
Machine learning (ML) will become more of a commodity, and threat actors will leverage both to improve attack scale, success, and effectiveness. For cybersecurity in 2023, we expect an increase in advanced phishing attacks targeting users across applications. Using AI and ML to automate tasks, cybercriminals will build employee maps by “crawling” social networks using algorithms to create automated emails. We’ve deployed sophisticated phishing attacks with over 75% success rate – add AI and ML to automate deployment and the odds of success increase.
More People on the Internet = More Likelihood of Cyber Threats
Internet dependence is not a new concept but a new reality. By 2025, more than 91% of people in developed countries and 69% in emerging economies will use the Internet. Increased access exposes people and devices to more threats, and when development environments speed up, security often isn’t top of mind. We’ve seen first-hand organizations invest in solid perimeter security appliances and not configure them properly. When we throw threats at a network, it should light up appliances, but we’ve seen zero response.
Crypto Threats are Growing and Evolving
Phishing attacks with domain spoofing, malicious browser extensions, and malware that scans for crypto wallet passphrase keys have seen success in the last five years. As companies adopt cryptocurrency/ payments, scammers will target crypto wallets and personal information. Companies selling NFTs with IPs, that many users want to buy, will put them at increased risk. Web3 has seen many unique attacks, but it is still built on Web2 technology, creating concern about attack surface potential. You can’t secure your Web3 infrastructure if Web2 is susceptible.
Breach Recovery Will Cost More
If cybercrime were measured as an economy, it would be the world’s third-largest after the U.S. and China. Attacks show no signs of slowing down. New tactics to siphon money are trending. Files are stolen from victims before encryption and threats to leak them on the dark web ensue. This “double extortion” method incentivizes victims to pay ransom even with a secure backup. Destruction of data, stolen money, theft of IP, personal and financial data, embezzlement, fraud, post attack disruption to business, forensic investigation, restoration of hacked data and systems, and reputational harm are only some of the consequences.
Organizations need to consider these trends to improve their cybersecurity posture. But how? It starts by thinking differently.
Bolster your defense with offensive cybersecurity
Defense is one part, offense the other. Start with a conversation about issues and roadblocks. It’s better to uncover and discuss gaps than be breached. For cybersecurity in 2023, a strong defense is important but not enough. Most organizations question spending beyond compliance. Defense-based appliances, MSPs, and blue teams are critical; however, validating that the defenses work is equally necessary. You will never know susceptibility unless you simulate real threats.
Deploy Continuous Threat Simulation with Planned and Unplanned Attacks
Companies testing once a year for compliance are missing the point – it’s not enough. For better cybersecurity in 2023, you need a continuous testing model that includes at least a dozen external tests each year, most of which should be unplanned. Hackers don’t work around your schedule. Consider how your organization will do with its guard down.
New threats will persist. Don’t ignore cyber-hygiene or validating your defense through strong offensive threat simulation. It’s like flossing your teeth. We know it’s important, yet most don’t do it. Avoid cyber-gingivitis and preventative care will never look the same.
By Luke Secrist, CEO at BuddoBot
A veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, Luke Secrist began his career in military defense contracting as an IT security engineer and systems manager. While working for companies of different sizes, his desire to start a cybersecurity business of his own grew. He envisioned a commercial startup that would cultivate subject matter expertise and creativity in a structured-yet-deconstructed environment. He realized this dream in 2008 with BuddoBot, a cybersecurity firm that takes an offensive (vs. defensive) approach to protect its customers’ IT systems from bad actors.
The company name is a combination of “Buddo” (a derivative of buddy) and “Bot” (a representation of technical efficiency and accuracy), reflecting Secrist’s friendly and team-oriented style to providing professional services. It also symbolizes an organizational culture driven by the desire to learn and think outside the box to help people mitigate real threats. BuddoBot serves an extensive list of clients in the federal government, healthcare, manufacturing, financial services, education, and other industries