Top 10 Cybersecurity Threats in 2024: How to Protect Your Data?

The annual cost of cybercrime globally is expected to reach $9.5 trillion in 2024. This is in addition to the increase in damages organizations face due to cybercrime, which is forecast to reach $10.5 trillion by 2025.

These statistics indicate that organizations face a never-ending battle to keep their systems and data safe from various cybersecurity threats. 

In this article, we’ll explore the top 10 cybersecurity threats companies should be wary of in 2024.

Key takeaways

  • Cyberattacks pose the biggest cybersecurity threat to businesses.
  • Some major cybersecurity threats today include smarter social engineering attacks, geopolitical threats, cloud-based cyber threats, and threats related to the shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals and third-party vulnerabilities.
  • Learn about the best practices you can implement to protect your systems and data from cyberattacks.

Elevated Cybersecurity Risks: 13 cyberattacks Per Second

In 2023, there were 420 million cyberattacks, which equates to 13 attacks per second, according to a report from ForeScout Verdere Labs. These attacks originated from 212 countries, with 28% coming from the United States. There was also a spike in attacks from China.

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Top 10 Countries Originating Attacks
Source: Forescout

“Forty-eight percent of attacks came from [IP addresses] managed by [Internet services providers], 32% from organizations in business, government, and other sectors, and 10% from hosting or cloud providers. This reflects an increase in the use of compromised devices to launch attacks, whether directly or via ‘residential proxies,'” according to Forescout Vedere Labs.

Top 10 Cybersecurity Threats

1. Cyberattacks

Various types of cyberattacks pose the biggest cybersecurity threat to businesses, individuals, and governments. They include malware, phishing, ransomware, and other forms of malicious software. 

Cyberattacks can cause significant harm and destruction to the targeted systems or networks. They can disrupt operations, leading to downtime and decreased productivity, particularly damaging organizations that rely heavily on technology. 

Moreover, the consequences of cyberattacks can extend beyond the targeted system or network. For instance, a cyberattack on critical infrastructure, such as a power grid, can threaten national security and have a far-reaching impact on society.

2. Geopolitical Threats

The increase in cyberattacks has dramatically changed the geopolitical environment. Cyberattacks have become a new tool for nations using state and non-state actors to attack governments, businesses, and even individuals.

These types of cyberattacks can have significant consequences, including threatening national security, damaging the economy, and destabilizing governments.

Using cyberattacks for political purposes, known as cyberwarfare, has become a major concern for global security. These attacks can potentially cause significant damage and disruption to financial institutions, government agencies, and critical infrastructure.

In addition, the evolving nature of technology has made it easier for malicious actors to carry out these cyberattacks, further complicating the already complex geopolitical environment.

3. Threats Posed by Deepfake Technology 

Deepfakes use artificial intelligence (AI) to create realistic and convincing fake videos, audio recordings, and images. One of the biggest concerns with deepfake technology is that it can potentially impersonate top-level executives, which can have significant consequences for organizations and individuals. 

For example, hackers can use deepfake technology to create audio recordings or fake videos of executives sharing sensitive corporate information. This can damage the organization’s reputation and wreak havoc with its finances.

In addition, bad actors can use deepfakes to manipulate stock prices by creating fake videos of an executive publicizing false information about a particular company, likely resulting in financial losses for stakeholders and investors. 

And the fact that hackers can use AI to create these deepfakes makes it even more challenging for organizations to detect and prevent them. That’s because AI can learn and adapt, which makes the deepfake images and videos even more realistic each time they’re duplicated. 

As such, traditional methods of detecting fake images and videos are becoming less effective. However, as deepfake generating tools evolve, so do the deepfake detectors

4. Cloud-Based Cyber Threats

Cloud-based threats target cloud-based systems, networks, applications, and data. These threats aim to compromise the availability, integrity, and confidentiality of cloud-based resources, which can lead to data breaches, financial losses, and damage to a company’s reputation. 

Some common examples of cloud-based cybersecurity threats include:

  • Unprotected application programming interfaces: APIs connect cloud-based services and applications. The cyber risk is that hackers can exploit them to access sensitive data if they’re not appropriately secured.
  • Cloud configurations that aren’t secure: If companies don’t properly configure and secure their cloud-based systems and resources, they can be vulnerable to cyberattacks.
  • Malware and ransomware attacks: Attackers use malware to infect cloud-based systems, steal data, and/or disrupt business operations. A type of malware, ransomware encrypts an organization’s data and then demands a ransom to release that data.

Top 10 Cybersecurity Threats

5. IoT Vulnerabilities

The number of IoT devices is forecast to nearly double from 15.1 billion in 2020 to more than 29 billion in 2030. As the number of Internet of Things (IoT) devices is constantly growing, so is the potential for cyber threats. 

That’s because cybercriminals have a wider range of devices to target and exploit, leading to more cyberattacks.

The most significant IT security threats to the Internet of Things ecosystem are botnets and distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. Cybercriminals can control botnets, which are networks of compromised devices, to carry out their malicious exploits, such as launching DDoS attacks, which can disrupt online services and websites.

In addition, many IoT devices are vulnerable to known cybersecurity flaws because they don’t receive regular software updates. As such, hackers can exploit these flaws to gain unauthorized access to organizations’ devices and networks.

6. Third-Party Cyber Threats

Third-party cyber threats refer to potential cybersecurity risks and attacks that originate from external sources, such as the systems of suppliers and contractors or outside organizations’ networks or systems. 

Third parties that don’t have adequate cybersecurity measures in place can pose significant risks to the sensitive information of their business partners. 

Third-party cyber threats can compromise the security and integrity of their partners’ data and systems, disrupting operations and causing financial loss and damage to their reputations. 

Cybercriminals often target third-party systems to access the networks and data of their larger business partners. 

7. More Intelligent Social Engineering Attacks

Social engineering attacks are becoming increasingly sophisticated and more targeted as cybercriminals combine social engineering with other types of attacks, such as ransomware, to make it more difficult for organizations and their employees to detect and defend against them.

One of the main reasons for the increasing sophistication of social engineering attacks is the rapid development of technology. Thanks to the proliferation of social media and the increasing dependence on the Internet, hackers have more access to their targets’ personal information, making it easier to develop convincing and personalized attacks. 

These cybercriminals can also use various tools and techniques, including phishing emails and fake websites, to ensure their attacks look more legitimate.

In addition, attackers always evolve their tactics and strategies to stay one step ahead of organizations’ security measures and exploit human weaknesses. For example, hackers might use social engineering tactics and psychological manipulation to trick employees into giving up sensitive company data or performing actions that can compromise the security of their organizations.

8. AI-Enhanced Cyber Threats

Although AI can revolutionize many industries, it poses a significant threat regarding cyberattacks because cybercriminals can hack AI systems. 

Many malicious actors are trying to figure out how to use AI to accelerate their attacks and employ more effective and sophisticated social engineering attacks.

As AI becomes more autonomous and advanced, it becomes even more susceptible to cyberattacks. And this could have severe consequences for industries increasing their use of AI, including finance, transportation, healthcare, and defense.

Bad actors can also use AI to gather and analyze large amounts of data, making detecting and exploiting vulnerabilities in organizations’ systems easier. The AI software used in industrial control systems, self-driving vehicles, and other autonomous systems can also pose considerable cybersecurity problems if they’re not adequately secured. 

A cyberattack on these systems can have serious consequences, including disrupting essential services and causing physical injury or even death.

9. Shortage of Skilled Cybersecurity Professionals

The cybersecurity skills gap means that companies don’t have enough qualified and experienced cybersecurity professionals to protect their systems and data from cyber threats. 

This gap has become a major cybersecurity issue because the supply of skilled professionals is insufficient to meet the demand, making it challenging for organizations to defend against cyberattacks. 

As such, companies are vulnerable to various cyber threats, including malware attacks, ransomware attacks, and data breaches.

In addition, the lack of skilled professionals means organizations don’t have the expertise to defend against complex cybersecurity threats. 

Because bad actors are continually developing their tactics, companies must have highly skilled cybersecurity employees who can keep up with and even stay ahead of these changes. 

10. Mobile Security Threats

Mobile devices, including smartphones, tablets, and wearables, have become increasingly essential productivity tools in today’s work-from-home world. However, they’re also ideal targets for cybercriminals. 

For one thing, mobile devices are often lost or stolen, making them easy targets for criminals, cyber or otherwise. Consequently, confidential corporate data and personal information may end up in the hands of these bad actors and be used for malicious purposes.

Additionally, cybercriminals are using spyware developed specifically to spy on encrypted messaging applications. And these hackers are also using mobile malware to launch denial-of-service attacks.

Furthermore, new versions of operating systems for mobile devices and frequent software updates can create vulnerabilities that cybercriminals can exploit to gain access to users’ devices and data.

How to Protect From cyberattacks

There are several best practices companies can implement to protect their systems and data from cyberattacks. 

Cybersecurity Best Practices

  • Implementing strong password policies: One of the most essential steps companies can take to protect their data is to enforce strong password policies. This includes requiring employees to create strong and unique passwords, change them regularly, and use multi-factor authentication for added security.
  • Educating employees: One of the best ways to protect against cyber threats is to educate employees about cybersecurity best practices. This includes training them to create strong passwords, install VPNs, identify phishing scams, and handle sensitive information.
  • Encrypting data: To protect their sensitive data, organizations should encrypt it, whether it’s in transit or at rest. That way, even if threat actors access the data, they won’t be able to read it.
  • Keeping systems and software up-to-date: Companies must regularly update their operating systems and software on every device, i.e., computers, tablets, mobile devices, and wearables. This includes updating web browsers, anti-malware and antivirus software, and all the applications employees use to do their jobs.
  • Monitoring and analyzing network traffic: Organizations should implement intrusion detection and prevention systems to monitor and analyze their network traffic for suspicious activity. 
  • Using multi-factor authentication: With multi-factor authentication, there is an additional layer of security because it mandates that employees provide additional information, such as codes sent to their mobile devices, to access their accounts. This helps prevent threat actors from infiltrating systems and accessing data if passwords are compromised.
  • Monitoring and auditing third-party systems: Organizations should regularly monitor and audit the systems and networks of third-party vendors and contractors to ensure they comply with the security requirements outlined in their contracts. This can help identify any potential vulnerabilities or breaches in their systems.
  • Implementing a cybersecurity policy: It’s critical for organizations to have formal cybersecurity policies in place that describe the best practices employees must follow, along with the consequences for not following them.
  • Conducting regular security audits: It’s crucial for organizations to regularly perform security audits so they can detect any weaknesses in their systems and processes. By doing so, they can take the initiative to implement measures to improve their cybersecurity practices and protect their sensitive corporate data.

The Bottom Line 

As cybercrime and cybersecurity threats continue to increase, it’s crucial that organizations do all they can to protect their systems and sensitive data from cybercriminals. 

For example, they can do this by regularly updating software and systems, using strong passwords, providing employees with comprehensive cybersecurity training, keeping software systems up-to-date, and conducting regular security audits.

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Linda Rosencrance

Linda Rosencrance is a freelance writer and editor based in the Boston area. She has more than 30 years of experience as an investigative reporter working for several newspapers in the Boston metro area. Linda has been writing about information technology since 1999. Her articles have appeared in MSDynamicsworld.com, TechTarget, TechBeacon, IoT World Today, Computerworld, CIO magazine, and many other publications. Rosencrance was the editor of a technology news website and managed and edited a blog focused on data analytics. She also writes white papers, casestudies, ebooks, and blog posts for many corporate clients.