Cyber Threats Trends to Watch Out For In 2024

Cybersecurity meets a new year, and with the prediction trends, it’s about to look like a 2023 sequel—more hacks, more drama, and maybe even a few unexpected plot twists! Grab and hold on to your passwords and every cybersecurity tip you know because the cyber world is ready for a long ride!

The first on our list is the Social Media account hijack. 

Put a finger down if you know at least 5 people who have had their social media accounts hacked. 

About five billion people have at least one social media account (my GenZ sibling has 12. Don’t ask me what for), and on average, 1.4 billion social media accounts are hacked monthly. The motives behind social media hijacking can vary and may include identity theft, spreading false information, engaging in phishing attacks, or even using the compromised accounts for financial scams. Hackers often exploit weak passwords, phishing schemes, or vulnerabilities in security protocols to gain control of social media accounts.

To stay safe, it’s important to use strong and unique passwords, turn on extra security measures like two-factor authentication, and be careful of strange messages that could be trying to trick you.

Second is Poor Data Retention practices.

Put a finger down if you have ever received love letters. In my teenage years, I used to love writing letters on pretty papers and give to my friends. I also received a lot of them, as this was a big love language for me. I kept most of them for a lot of years and only had to take pictures to upload to my cloud storage, so I’ll retain them forever. Now, if you’re a business, and you collect personal data, my gist is not for you. 

Data retention means keeping information for a certain period to follow rules, regulations and needs like the law or business rules. It’s about keeping info safe and available for its purpose while following privacy and data protection laws. As a business, you are required to keep certain information for some years and then delete it. You cannot choose to keep your customer’s information for 100 years just because. You also cannot of your own discretion decide to discard some information because you’re tired of keeping them. This is why regular audits are very necessary for a company that intends not to go out of business. Hacktales offers a variety of information security audits. Reach out for a consultation and let 2024 be the year you make the right business decisions that help you stay relevant.

Third on the list, is the trend of Point-of-Sale (POS) Cyberattacks.

Put a finger down if you’ve received a debit alert that carried  **POS** in the description and you didn’t use your card for any transaction at the time. 

Many people carry around a debit card (usually called an ATM card). Using our cards with a POS machine has become the easiest way of withdrawing cash in Nigeria, and also paying for goods and services. On the other hand, a point of sale (POS) or point of purchase (POP) terminal is a machine used in stores to process card payments. It has software that reads the magnetic stripes on credit and debit cards. When someone uses a credit/debit card to buy something, the POS terminal checks the stripe for enough money and then completes the transaction by transferring the funds to the seller. Because your POS reads the cardholder data of your customers, as a business, you have the obligation to protect the data and you have to take extra caution not to be a victim of POS cyberattacks.

Here are some key practices to follow:

1. Secure Systems and Networks:

   – Keep all your software updated and patched regularly.

   – Use strong passwords, two-factor authentication, and encryption.

   – Use security solutions like antivirus software and firewalls.

2. Employee Training and Access Control:

   – Don’t sleep on training your staff on recognizing threats and being security conscious

   – Restrict access to POS systems to authorised personnel only.

   – Employ least privilege principles. This means that you give staff access to only what they       need to carry out their job.

3. Monitoring and Response Readiness:

   – Monitor POS systems for suspicious activities and maintain detailed logs.

   – Conduct regular security audits (audit is showing up again, don’t joke with this)  and assessments.

   – Develop and practise an incident response plan tailored for POS breaches.

4. Data Protection and Vendor Assessment:

   – Encrypt cardholder data during transmission and storage.

   – Avoid storing unnecessary sensitive card data.

   – Assess the security practices of POS vendors or service providers.

This fourth point is super important, especially if your business deals with people’s card information. There’s something called a PCI-DSS audit, which is like a big security test. If your business hasn’t done this check, it’s like having a weak spot that could cause big problems later on.

Doing the PCI-DSS audit is like putting strong locks on your doors to protect important stuff. If you don’t do this check, it’s like leaving the door unlocked. This might lead to bad things like losing money, people not trusting your business anymore, and even getting into trouble with the rules. Not doing this check means your business might be at risk of hackers or bad people stealing card information. So, it’s not about ‘if’ something bad might happen, it’s more like ‘when’ it might happen.

Doing this check helps your business stay safe by making sure it follows important security rules to keep card information safe. It’s a good way to show customers that you take their card details seriously and want to keep them safe.

The final and big boss on our list is the rise of Offensive AI.

Put a finger down if you think about the TikTok AI trend.

AI-powered tools enable the automation of various attack vectors, such as phishing, malware deployment, or network intrusions. These tools can mimic human-like behavior, making attacks even more challenging to detect.

There are advanced AI algorithms that can analyze extensive data collected from various sources like social media and emails. This analysis allows cybercriminals to create very persuasive social engineering attacks that look like legitimate communications, making them harder for employees to identify as fraudulent. Usually phishing attacks can be detected by finding wrong spellings, grammatical errors, low resolution logos and pictures, but this sophisticated approach is thorough in copying legitimate communications and therefore increases the risk of successful phishing attempts or pretexting schemes targeting your company’s staff, potentially leading to data breaches or unauthorized access to sensitive information.

There is also the AI-generated deepfakes or fake audio and video content which can be used for impersonation or to manipulate information, leading to misinformation campaigns or identity theft.

Why offensive AI is a big trend to look out for in 2024 is that these AI algorithms can learn from their actions and adapt their strategies based on responses from security systems, enabling them to modify attack methods to bypass evolving security measures in real time. This is like a master-key tool in the hands of threat actors (cyber attackers).

Cybersecurity trends are like the latest dance craze—constantly changing and sometimes downright unexpected! By staying updated on trends, proactively implementing security solutions that tighten your defences amidst the rapid evolution of technology, and embracing innovative solutions, you can navigate the twists and turns of the cyber landscape while staying ahead of potential threats.

Finally, put a finger down if you think you’re prepared for these trends in 2024. How many fingers on one hand do you have left?

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