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Securing the Digital Age: Five Cybersecurity Trends Shaping the Landscape in 2024

Last Updated January 20, 2024 11:12 AM
Giuseppe Ciccomascolo
Last Updated January 20, 2024 11:12 AM
Key Takeaways
  • Post-quantum cryptography (PQC) is emerging to safeguard computer systems and communications against potential quantum computer attacks.
  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) will continue to grow in 2024, with regulatory frameworks in place to ensure safety.
  • There is a growing consensus that cybersecurity and sustainability share deeper connections than initially apparent.
  • Here are five trends in cybersecurity to look at this year.

The year 2023 is poised to be remembered as a transitional period for cybersecurity and information technology. While quantum computing is in its early stages, and artificial intelligence (AI) is primarily engaged in generating authentic written and visual content rather than achieving Artificial General Intelligence, new technologies are on the horizon. As we await these advancements, the struggle against escalating online crime persists, coupled with economic uncertainties in much of the developed world.

The shift may become palpable in 2024, as these themes have the potential to leave a lasting impact on cybersecurity and, by extension, our daily lives. Nils Gerhardt, Chief Technology Officer and head of product for Utimaco , a leading provider of cyber security solutions, and supervisory board member of the Internation School of IT Security (ISITS ), explored some of the pivotal developments anticipated for 2024, spanning both technology and its broader intersections with our world.

PQC’s Y2K Bug

While the ‘Y2K bug’ proved to be largely a myth for home computer users, tales of ‘planes falling from the sky and nuclear reactors shutting down’ were exaggerated. Nevertheless, the transition from the 20th to the 21st century did pose challenges for crucial legacy systems.

Drawing parallels, post-quantum cryptography (PQC) is emerging to safeguard computer systems and communications against potential quantum computer attacks. Unlike the Y2K bug, the timeline for when quantum computers might breach current cryptography remains uncertain, but the eventual impact on society will be comprehensive.

Nils Gerhardt said: “Especially perilous for large organizations and governments reliant on legacy systems, recent advancements, including IBM‘s 1,000 qubit quantum chip, highlight progress in quantum computing.”

Efforts are already underway to develop quantum-safe cryptography, now increasingly deployed for commercial use. Just as the industry mitigated the risks of Y2K, a concerted effort is essential to avert a potential data catastrophe in the future. The process of adapting to the reality of quantum computing and post-quantum cryptography has commenced earnestly and will accelerate this year.

Artificial Intelligence Continued Growth

The predominant digital narrative of 2023 is poised to persist as a major theme in 2024. It could evolve from novelty to routine, with regulatory frameworks in place to ensure safety.

Cybersecurity agencies worldwide have collaborated to establish security principles for AI, focusing on design, development, deployment, operations, and maintenance. The Council Presidency and the European Parliament reached an agreement on the AI Law. They proposed harmonized rules to guarantee the safety and adherence to EU values of AI systems within the EU market.

The guidance outlines safety mechanisms, offering a blueprint for effective control and regulation of AI. This potentially extends its application to areas such as supply chain security, threat modeling, and comprehensive documentation.

While AI has been exploited for cybercrime, particularly in smaller-scale incidents, major hacks of large institutions have yet to fully leverage its capabilities. In the dual nature of any new technology, AI stands poised to both detect attacks and fortify networks/companies. With its unparalleled efficiency in correlating extensive datasets, AI has the potential to emerge as a potent ally, significantly enhancing cybersecurity capabilities beyond human capacity.

Cybersecurity And Sustainability

At first glance, the realms of securing digital systems and ensuring corporate sustainability may appear unrelated. However, there is a growing consensus that these practices share deeper connections than initially apparent.

Firstly, cyberattacks generate significant waste. The aftermath of successful attacks demands the expenditure of time, money, electricity, and numerous resources to rectify the damage. Also, there are instances of attacks directly impacting the environment, such as remote shutdowns of water treatment facilities.

Secondly, the pursuit of sustainability goals, whether within the ESG framework or otherwise, necessitates the implementation of new technology and its vigilant monitoring. This primarily involves Internet of Things (IoT) devices, encompassing networks of CO2 sensors, micro-solar grids, and the like. IoT projects, due to their numerous individual data connections, present an expansive attack surface compared to traditional deployments. This heightened vulnerability applies similarly to sustainable projects.

Skills Gap

Addressing the persistent gap between the demand for cybersecurity professionals and the available workforce has been an ongoing challenge. However, in 2024, Gerhardt anticipates tangible progress due to the increasing urgency of the issue. The fact that the cybersecurity skills gap currently affects 71% of organizations underscores the critical nature of the problem. It also prompts a realization they can no longer ignore.

To bridge this gap, there are several potential solutions. While continually updated university-level training is beneficial, it requires several years for the next generation of professionals to complete their training. Cloud-based third-party security solutions offer another avenue to mitigate risk.

Additionally, crosstraining and upskilling within companies represent a practical approach. For instance, Utimaco has invested in the International School of IT Security. The latter provides a Master in Applied IT Security, along with on-site and digital in-house training. This multi-pronged approach aims to not only fill the immediate need for cybersecurity expertise, but also build a sustainable and well-equipped workforce for the future.

Infrastructure Resilience

Gerhardt’s current ecosystem’s vulnerability is apparent in the susceptibility of infrastructures to potential attacks capable of disrupting entire systems. He said: “A seemingly simple act, such as severing critical cables, holds the potential to regress the World to a technological Stone Age. And it may highlight the urgent need for robust defenses.”

To counter this vulnerability, various initiatives are in progress to enhance traditional terrestrial infrastructures with satellite-based communication and infrastructure solutions. However, this introduces a new challenge: ensuring the security of these space-based technologies. Implementing multiple security layers, including encryption between satellites, on top of the infrastructure’s basic security, is essential to achieve the high level of security required for safeguarding critical data.

Gerhardt said:”As we move into 2024, it is clear that the year will witness the convergence of major themes that have been accumulating for years.”

He added: “This period holds particular significance for the cybersecurity sector, as it stands at the forefront of pivotal changes unfolding not just in the coming year but for years to come. The future demands not only technological innovation but also a steadfast foundation of trust and security to fortify our interconnected world.”

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