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My Cybersecurity Preview For 2024

A hacker in a dark room with a covered face typing away at a computer trying to steal personal information or hack into a system is a cybersecurity threat. PHOTO: Nahel Abdul Hadi/Unsplash

A hacker in a dark room with a covered face typing away at a computer trying to steal personal information or hack into a system is a cybersecurity threat. PHOTO: Nahel Abdul Hadi/Unsplash

It’s about that time when everyone writes lists and predictions for the new year, and I’m excited to join the tradition and seize the opportunity to share my own insights! In my first post of 2024, let’s take a quick look around the digital scene, forecasting the cybersecurity trends and keeping an eye out for potential challenges and opportunities.

As we step into the new year, the cybersecurity landscape awaits with the dual facets of promise and peril in advancing technologies. From the rise of sophisticated cyber-attacks to the growing importance of AI in defense strategies, I navigate through the key landscapes that demand our attention.

  1. Generative AI in Phishing — The Art of Deception Unleashed

We talked a bit about phishing and social engineering last week. Going by the events of last year, we can expect to see attacks transcending traditional boundaries with unprecedented sophistication. Deepfakes and context-aware phishing are going to redefine the art of deception. Those phishing emails are going to get better, and much harder to detect even for the more conscious lot!

The good news is that artificial intelligence (AI) is also being used on the defense side. AI will help techies unmask the evolving tactics employed by cyber adversaries and explore advanced defense strategies. From AI-driven threat detection systems to user education on recognizing AI-generated scams, we shall see more of the arsenal against generative AI in phishing being deployed.

  1. Zero Trust Outside Networks — Extending Security Paradigms

As the cybersecurity landscape continues to witness sophisticated threats, the implementation of Zero Trust outside networks is anticipated to become a strategic imperative. Organizations will seek to fortify their defenses by scrutinizing every interaction, regardless of the external entity involved, fostering a resilient security posture in the face of evolving cyber risks. Expect discussions and initiatives centered around practical steps, challenges, and successes in implementing and adapting the Zero Trust model to diverse external environments.

Organizations will likely focus on adopting a holistic security approach that transcends conventional boundaries. The emphasis will be on building trust incrementally, validating the identity and security posture of entities outside the organizational perimeter. This extension of Zero Trust principles aims to address the dynamic nature of modern business interactions, including external collaborations, partnerships, and remote work scenarios.

  1. Cybersecurity Skills Gap — Initiatives for Bridging the Divide

In an age where cyber threats keep increasing in sophistication and reach, the scarcity of proficient cybersecurity experts presents a substantial risk. Ongoing research underlines the widening gap, with a persistent trend of unfilled cybersecurity positions persisting over the past two years. Recognizing this urgent need, proactive initiatives are set to emerge this year, marked by collaborative endeavors between industries and academic institutions, the implementation of certification programs, and the fostering of apprenticeships.

A notable initiative at the forefront of this movement is the “One Million Certified in Cybersecurity” program by ISC2 which aims to address the shortage by providing free, self-paced online training and exams to one million individuals. For those contemplating entry into the cybersecurity field and seeking a starting point, participating in this program offers a valuable opportunity to acquire foundational knowledge and embark on a meaningful cybersecurity journey.

Personally, I am exploring opportunities for collaboration with the local chapters of ISC2 and ISACA as certification bodies, and some private sector and public entities.

  1. Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning on Both Sides of the Battle — Fortifying Defenses and Attacks

The ongoing battle between Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) algorithms unfolds on both fronts, as these technologies fortify cybersecurity defenses while simultaneously empowering malicious actors. This year we shall see the latest advancements in AI-driven threat detection and the corresponding risks of AI-powered cyber attacks.

Organizations can leverage AI and ML defensively, from anomaly detection in network traffic to predictive analysis of potential vulnerabilities. It is imperative to delve into the intricacies of these measures, comprehending the countermeasures essential to thwart AI-driven threats effectively.

  1. UPDF Cyberdefense Programs — Safeguarding National Interests

In the wake of recent global conflicts, such as the war in Ukraine and events in Gaza, the significance of cyberwarfare has come to the forefront. Back home, little is known about Uganda’s People’s Defence Force (UPDF) capabilities in this domain. Is it a matter of their adept protection of secrecy, or is there a possibility that not enough is being done yet? They gladly show off fleets of fighter jets and tanks, but when it comes to cybersecurity, here’s what the Ministry of Defence website states “Our cybersecurity capabilities information cannot be made available here, but the country has seen, investigated and handled several high-profile cyber attacks in recent years”.

This year promises a deeper dive into understanding how our military employs cyber defense programs to safeguard Uganda’s national interests and critical infrastructure as the digital landscape becomes increasingly vital to national security.

As we push for more awareness and proactive strategy for individuals, SMEs, and large corporations, let us aspire to foster a collaborative exchange of knowledge that strengthens the collective cybersecurity posture for us all.

  1. 3rd Party and Vendor Security — Safeguarding the Value Chain

A quick look at some of the biggest cyberheists in Uganda, and you will see a common theme, or rather vulnerability: attacks through a compromised third party. It doesn’t matter how strong your defenses are if you let less secure services plug into your systems.

In the upcoming year, the focus on Third-Party and Vendor Security will intensify as organizations grapple with the persistent threat of cyber heists originating from compromised external entities.

Expect heightened scrutiny and proactive measures to safeguard the supply chain from cyber threats. Organizations are likely to invest more resources in rigorous vendor assessments, ensuring that third-party entities adhere to stringent cybersecurity standards. Collaborative efforts between organizations and their partners will likely evolve, emphasizing shared threat intelligence and collective strategies to fortify the entire supply chain against cyber threats. The goal will be to establish a resilient ecosystem where the security of one entity contributes to the overall strength of the interconnected network.

Also, we shall see some vendors who fail to make the mark be dropped by major players. The need for security will have the Telcos, banks, and other institutions suspend or even cut ties completely with third-party partners whom they deem high risk from historical events or audits of their current setups.

  1. IoT Security Challenges — Navigating the Interconnected Web

By this time, you probably are using not just one or two but several smart and connected devices, but you might tell me you don’t know what IoT is! That’s OK, you’re not alone, but it’s about time you brush up on your knowledge so that you don’t unknowingly introduce threats or vulnerabilities into your home or office.

In the forthcoming year, heightened awareness and proactive measures are expected to address the burgeoning IoT Security Challenges as the proliferation of interconnected devices becomes even more ubiquitous.

Moreover, the coming year is likely to witness increased efforts in developing and implementing robust security standards specifically tailored for the diverse range of IoT devices. From stringent authentication protocols to encryption measures, these standards will seek to establish a secure foundation for the interconnected web of devices, fostering a safer and more resilient IoT landscape.

As we conclude our expedition into the realms of cybersecurity, the tapestry woven is one of awareness, collaboration, and innovation; it is imperative to stay vigilant and proactive. By understanding the upcoming trends and challenges, we empower ourselves to build resilient defenses, ensuring a secure digital future.

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