AI and ransomware stand out as 2024's top cybersecurity threats

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ZeroFox, a renowned cybersecurity leader, has released its 2024 cybersecurity predictions, providing insights into the looming threats in the upcoming year. Drawing from extensive data and experience, ZeroFox has its finger on the pulse of the evolving threat landscape. ZeroFox predicts that in 2024, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) for malware will see a significant increase. Other ongoing threats include ransomware, targeting of critical infrastructure, and a rise in zero-day vulnerabilities. The 2024 elections may also act as a catalyst for various threat actors.

ZeroFox writes, “Newly-formed ransomware groups are expected to demonstrate proficiency faster than ever before in 2024, due to a number of proliferating as-a-service tools that continue to lower entry barriers to would-be threat actors”. The year 2023 witnessed a record number of ransomware incidents, and this trend shows no signs of slowing. The United States remains a prime target, both for its lucrative digital infrastructure and the deteriorating Russia-US relations.

The rise of “Ransomware as a Service” has made ransomware and digital extortion attacks more accessible than ever. Ransomware is a top cybersecurity threat in 2024. Greedy threat actors are progressively zeroing in on small to medium-sized organizations with aging network infrastructure. These entities often struggle to keep up with the latest cybersecurity best practices. As threat actors continue to exploit critical network vulnerabilities for ransomware attacks, no company can consider itself safe.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become a double-edged sword in the realm of cybersecurity

While AI serves in offensive roles, it has also grown in significance within defensive applications. According to ZeroFox, “AI will continue to be used in support of malicious activities such as impacting elections and stirring discontent.” Its versatility and complexity make it a valuable tool for both offensive and defensive cybersecurity measures. It is expected that the use of AI will continue through 2024.

High-level programmers and experienced cybersecurity groups have traditionally held the responsibility of discovering zero-day vulnerabilities and crafting new exploits. The search for zero-day vulnerabilities is challenging, but the rewards can be significant. In 2024, there will likely be a shift away from traditional data exfiltration methods towards exploiting new vulnerabilities, driven by the pursuit of more significant payouts.

Critical infrastructure, including finance, energy, and healthcare, will remain the primary targets for ransomware groups. These sectors offer the most lucrative opportunities for threat actors. Additionally, major cyber events tend to surge during times of geopolitical tension, making it crucial for these sectors to strengthen their cybersecurity defenses.

In summary, 2024 promises to be an intriguing year for cybersecurity. The convergence of AI, the 2024 elections, and the relentless rise of ransomware highlight the need for organizations to stay proactive in their defenses against evolving threats.