With cybersecurity awareness month upon us and 2023 just around the corner, it’s time to take stock and revisit how the cybersecurity landscape has changed and developed throughout 2022. For example, as we enter a post-covid world, only now are we seeing the true impact of the pandemic on the cybersecurity industry.
In addition, data breaches and ransomware are as destructive as ever. Still, we have also seen an emergence of state-sponsored cyberterrorism and hacking communities targeting big businesses, supply chains, and government infrastructure.
2022 has seen more large-scale data breaches, including $18 million in bitcoin and $15 million in Ethereum stolen from Crypto.com. Additionally, Microsoft suffered a significant data breach, with hackers claiming they stole the source code of Cortana, Bing, and several other Microsoft products. 2022 has also seen Samsung and Nvidia targeted in some high-profile cases.
In this article, we will explore the security landscape of 2022 and discover how things are shaping up for 2023 and beyond.
Lessons Learned in 2022
The past year represents one of the cybersecurity industry’s most challenging and disruptive periods on record. Governments and businesses worldwide continue to navigate the uncharted waters of a global pandemic. Companies strive to achieve a “new normal,” and digital transformation efforts are sharply accelerated as businesses embrace hybrid and remote work arrangements. However, businesses are still experiencing many of the cyber security threats that plagued many of them in 2021.
Cyberattacks, on average, are up 50% more throughout 2022, and the education and research sectors are feeling the biggest squeeze, with an average of 1,605 attacks targeting these industries every week throughout 2021 and 2022. The employed attack vectors are changing, too: from a new generation of sophisticated pay-per-click exploits to the war in Ukraine, the cyber security landscape has changed significantly.
What are the most common attack vectors witnessed in 2022? How are hackers gaining access to such high-profile victims? The answers might surprise you because we still see many old-fashioned techniques employed.
#1: Social Engineering: This is when a hacker manipulates people into carrying out specific actions or divulging valuable information to an attacker. Thousands of person-hours go into creating complex social engineering campaigns. An attacker identifies a victim and builds trust using a variety of techniques. For example, a skilled hacker will willingly attempt to convince someone by phone or private messaging to hand over their details.
Hackers often target persons of interest or senior employees; unfortunately, social engineering works.
There are countless examples; over $100 million was stolen from Google and Facebook CEOs. In addition, cybercriminals have used DeepFake AI technology to target a significant British energy supplier using a social engineering technique that mimicked the CEO’s voice.
#2: Business Email Compromise: Business email compromise (BEC) is a growing problem for businesses of all sizes. In a recent survey, 78% of companies reported experiencing at least one BEC attack in the past year. BEC can be used to phish for user credentials and sensitive business data and to deliver malware payloads used in ransomware attacks.
Many scammers use real email addresses to target actual employees within the same business or attempt to intercept conversations and hijack communications between companies and customers.
#3: Cloud Misconfiguration: One of the most common types of misconfiguration is when systems are not correctly configured for the cloud. Cloud misconfiguration can lead to the leakage of sensitive data and open up businesses to cyberattacks. It is caused by incorrect access management controls, often due to overly complex infrastructure.
When an organization needs to configure its cloud-based applications or services properly, cloud misconfiguration can occur. Unfortunately, this can leave their data and systems open to attack. For example, a poorly configured storage bucket can allow hackers to access sensitive data, and attackers can easily guess weak passwords.
#4: Risk of Malware: Malware describes malicious software, including computer viruses, trojan horses, and rootkits. It can also include ransomware, keyloggers, and trojans. In addition, attackers use many techniques to inject malware into a system, such as phishing attempts to trick an end user into installing malicious software.
The malware requires multiple responses to be defended against. First, technology is needed to intercept malware, such as email scanning or end-user protection software. Second, servers must be patched and updated regularly, which significantly helps to have a workforce trained to spot phishing and malware attempts.
#5: Ransomware: One of the most common malware payloads is ransomware. It’s a malicious application that typically locks computer files with an encryption key; the hacker then attempts to extort money from the victim. Ransomware is a severe threat because victims often pay the ransom to get their files back or pay them to prevent leaks of sensitive or controversial information.
#6: Increase in Supply Chain Attacks: Today’s supply chain is highly digital, with most companies relying on digital services in some capacity. This reliance on another company’s services means your system becomes interconnected with theirs. As a result, an attack on one side could eventually compromise the other side. For this reason, a supply chain compromise could be catastrophic for anyone in the supply chain.
Cybersecurity for 2023 and Beyond
It is evident from 2022 that many of the threats face between 2020-2021 are still relevant today. The ever presence of social engineering, phishing, and ransomware makes familiar reading, but its sophistication and the number of high-profile victims make the cybersecurity lessons learned from 2022 crucial. It is the bigger fish that are falling afoul of sophisticated scams and hacks.
As we approach 2023, cybersecurity will continue to be a top priority for organizations of all sizes. Unfortunately, the rapid development of digital technologies has created new opportunities for cybercriminals while presenting new threats to organizations and individuals.
We expect to see more of the same as hackers continue to pick off the easy targets. These businesses do not adequately secure their cloud endpoints or set weak passwords and inadequate password policies.
Cyberterrorism will continue to be a concern in 2023 as groups and individuals seek to cause damage and chaos through cyberattacks. Organizations need to understand cyber threats and how to protect themselves to stay ahead of these threats.
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