Cybersecurity is a critical concern for businesses of all sizes, but small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are particularly vulnerable to attacks. SMBs are often targeted by cybercriminals due to their weaker security systems and lower awareness of cybersecurity risks.
In this blog, we’ll discuss seven cybersecurity trends that you should be aware of in 2024, as well as some best practices you should implement to keep your organization safe.
By understanding current cybersecurity trends, your organization can minimize the potential of future attacks, gain value in your ongoing cybersecurity efforts and learn more about which measures may be beneficial for your organization to implement.
Here are seven trends that all SMBs should be aware of in 2024:
1. Third-Party Risk Assessments Will Expand
Companies will continue to roll out new third-party risk management processes. This proactive approach ensures the mitigation of potential risks associated with external partnerships.
Consequently, organizations will increasingly disseminate comprehensive third-party risk assessment questionnaires, demanding a well-substantiated and defensible response. This trend reflects a commitment to enhancing transparency, fostering responsible business practices and a secure business environment.
2. Rising Insurance Requirements
Growing demand, large payouts from ransomware attacks and ineffective cybersecurity hygiene are a few reasons why cybersecurity insurance premiums have skyrocketed year after year.
Due to the evolving nature of cyber threats, Insurance companies will continue to increase the requirements placed on their policyholders.
Similarly, expectations for comprehensive risk assessments, up-to-date security protocols and incident response preparedness are becoming more stringent.
3. Growing Emphasis on Scanning and Patching
The era of blissful ignorance is fading as companies recognize the imperative to address vulnerabilities and missing patches in their systems.
This heightened awareness is driven by both internal considerations and the increasing emphasis placed on vulnerability scanning by third parties, underscoring a collective recognition that proactive measures are essential in the face of evolving cybersecurity threats.
4. Escalating Compliance Demands
An increasing number of companies find themselves compelled to confront a range of compliance requirements, notably including the FTC Safeguards Rule and the Cybersecurity Maturity Model Certification (CMMC).
The FTC Safeguards Rule emphasizes data security practices, while the CMMC sets stringent criteria for defense contractors to protect sensitive government information.
This evolving regulatory landscape necessitates a proactive approach from businesses, compelling them to invest in comprehensive compliance strategies to navigate the complexities of an increasingly regulated environment successfully.
5. Surge of AI-Powered Threats
The escalating threat of email phishing attacks shows no signs of slowing down, with their effectiveness poised to increase through the incorporation of artificial intelligence (AI) techniques.
In a recent analysis, Loffler's Incident Response partner Blue Team Alpha found that out of a sample size of 111 recent incident response engagements;
- 65% pertained to business email compromise/compromise assessment cases
- 23% were identified as ransomware cases
- 12% were linked to account takeovers
This comprehensive breakdown highlights the multi-faceted nature of cyber threats, emphasizing the necessity for tailored security approaches to effectively counteract the diverse challenges encountered in incident response scenarios.
6. Shift from Phishing to Smishing
As email security measures tighten, cyber attackers are compelled to shift their strategies towards alternative attack vectors, notably SMS phishing, commonly referred to as smishing.
Smishing involves deceptive text messages that attempt to trick individuals into divulging sensitive information or clicking malicious links.
In addition to the traditional email threat landscape, organizations must now be vigilant in guarding against SMS-based attacks, underlining the need for comprehensive and adaptable cybersecurity measures.
7. Heightened Ransomware Attacks
The trajectory of ransomware attacks and associated ransom demands is on an alarming upswing, with a sustained increase expected in the foreseeable future.
According to Fortinet, these attacks are not only intensifying but also adopting a more targeted and rapid-wave approach: the number of ransomware incidents was 13x higher in the second half of 2023 compared to the beginning of the year.
This alarming surge underscores the urgency for organizations to bolster their cybersecurity measures and implement proactive strategies to mitigate the escalating threat posed by ransomware.
Cybersecurity Best Practices
Attackers are modifying their methods as cyber defenses advance and more organizations are adopting a preventative strategy. But not all SMBs are properly equipped to handle cyberattacks.
Here’s a list of top cybersecurity best practices to adopt to help keep your organization protected.
Implement a Cybersecurity Plan
SMBs must have a cybersecurity plan in place that outlines the steps they will take to prevent, detect and respond to cyberattacks, if they don’t already.
Not only should your organization have an effective and comprehensive plan in place, but all employees should be trained on how to identify and respond to cyber threats. This may include regular training on phishing attacks, password security and social engineering tactics.
Continuous Vulnerability Assessments
Cybersecurity experts have largely moved away from recommending that organizations have an annual vulnerability assessment. Rather, more frequent vulnerability scans are necessary to ensure that your systems are properly secured to prevent potential risk.
A risk assessment identifies vulnerable systems, missing patches, misconfigured systems and unknown or unapproved devices on your network.
Many attackers take advantage of known vulnerabilities in software, but by keeping software up to date SMBs can reduce the risk of being hacked.
Backup Data Regularly
In the event of a ransomware attack, having regularly backed up data can make the difference between a minor inconvenience and a major disaster.
Restoring from a backup requires that said backup is updated often to ensure minimal loss of data upon restoration, so implementing proper backup procedures is especially important for all organizations.
Don't forget about properly protecting business data in the cloud and Software as a Service (SaaS) applications in your data protection strategy.
Implement Multi-Factor Authentication for Sensitive Systems and Administrator Accounts
Enacting Multi-Factor Authentication is one of the most effective elements in reducing cybersecurity risk and is a recommendation that all security experts and major software vendors agree on.
It is suggested that organizations have MFA on outward-facing systems, such as email or any sort of critical system that handles sensitive data — i.e private financial or healthcare information.
Additionally, experts are recommending that internal administrator accounts implement MFA as well, in both on-premise and cloud systems. In doing so, you’ll be able to limit the amount of access a hacker has if they get into your environment.
Integrate On-Premise and Cloud-Based Systems
Having systems that are both on-premise and cloud-based can increase security risks, as well as lower user accessibility and usability.
Implementing Zero Trust Access and Secure Access Server Edge (SASE) types of services allows an organization to bring their systems together in terms of monitoring and management. Rather than treating them as disparate systems, these services bring in logging and alerting data into one database.
By implementing these services, your organization will be able to compare different activities that are considered normal or abnormal while raising necessary alerts.
Assessing and maintaining your organization’s IT environment can be stressful, but working with a trusted IT Solutions provider can help keep your organization protected from cyber threats.
Read Next: The ABCs of Cybersecurity Assessments
Randy is a CISSP who leads the Cybersecurity and IT Consulting team at Loffler Companies. He is focused on applying his 25+ years of IT experience to help his clients measure, understand and manage information security risk through the vCISO managed consulting program.