FortiGuard Labs forecasts Generative AI and CaaS operations to facilitate cyberattacks
Fortinet unveiled predictions from the FortiGuard Labs global threat intelligence and research team about the cyberthreat landscape for the next 12 months and beyond. The 2024 threat predictions report explores the impact of artificial intelligence on the cyber warfare paradigm, highlighting emergent threat trends set to shape the digital landscape in the coming year and beyond.
In an era marked by the proliferation of Cybercrime-as-a-Service (CaaS) operations and the advent of generative AI, threat actors now possess an array of "easy" buttons, facilitating the execution of attacks. Leveraging the expanding capabilities in their arsenals, adversaries are poised to elevate the sophistication of their activities. The imminent threat landscape is expected to witness a surge in targeted and stealthy hacks, meticulously crafted to circumvent robust security controls. This evolution, coupled with increased agility in the execution of attack cycles, underscores the urgent need for organizations worldwide to fortify their collective resilience against evolving cybercriminal tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs).
The Evolution of Old Favorites
FortiGuard Labs has been observing many fan-favorite attack tactics for years and the "classics" aren't going away. Instead, they're evolving and advancing as attackers gain access to new resources. In addition to the evolution of APT operations, we predict that cybercrime groups, in general, will diversify their targets and playbooks, focusing on more sophisticated and disruptive attacks, and setting their sights on denial of service and extortion.
Cybercrime "turf wars" continue, with multiple attack groups homing in on the same targets and deploying ransomware variants, often within 24 hours or less. The weaponization of generative AI will add fuel to an already raging fire, giving attackers an easy means of enhancing many stages of their attacks. We are already witnessing cybercriminals increasingly use AI to support malicious activities in new ways, ranging from thwarting the detection of social engineering to mimicking human behavior.
Fresh Threat Trends to Watch for in 2024 and Beyond.
1. Next-level playbooks: Over the past few years, ransomware attacks worldwide have skyrocketed, making every organization, regardless of size or industry, a target. Yet, as an increasing number of cybercriminals launch ransomware attacks to attain a lucrative payday, cybercrime groups are quickly exhausting smaller, easier-to-hack targets. Looking ahead, we predict attackers will take a "go big or go home" approach, with adversaries turning their focus to critical industries—such as healthcare, finance, transportation, and utilities—that if hacked, would have a sizeable adverse impact on society and make for a more substantial payday for the attacker. They’ll also expand their playbooks, making their activities more personal, aggressive, and destructive in nature.
2. It's a new day for zero days: As organizations expand the number of platforms, applications, and technologies they rely on for daily business operations, cybercriminals have unique opportunities to uncover and exploit software vulnerabilities. We've observed a record number of zero days and new Common Vulnerabilities and Exposures (CVEs) emerge in 2023, and that count is still rising. Given how valuable zero days can be for attackers, we expect to see zero-day brokers—cybercrime groups selling zero days on the dark web to multiple buyers—emerge among the CaaS community. N-days will continue to pose significant risks for organizations as well.
3 Playing the inside game: Many organizations are leveling up their security controls and adopting new technologies and processes to strengthen their defenses. These enhanced controls make it more difficult for attackers to infiltrate a network externally, so cybercriminals must find new ways to reach their targets. Given this shift, we predict that attackers will continue to shift left with their tactics, reconnaissance, and weaponization, with groups beginning to recruit from inside target organizations for initial access purposes.
4. Ushering in “we the people” attacks: Looking ahead, we expect to see attackers take advantage of more geopolitical happenings and event-driven opportunities, such as the 2024 U.S. elections and the Paris 2024 games. While adversaries have always targeted major events, cybercriminals now have new tools at their disposal—generative AI in particular—to support their activities.
5. Narrowing the TTP playing field: Attackers will inevitably continue to expand the collection of TTPs they use to compromise their targets. Yet defenders can gain an advantage by finding ways to disrupt those activities. While most of the day-to-day work done by cybersecurity defenders is related to blocking indicators of compromise, there's great value in taking a closer look at what the TTPs attackers regularly use, which will help narrow the playing field and find potential “choke points on the chess board.”
6. Making space for more 5G attacks: With access to an ever-increasing array of connected technologies, cybercriminals will inevitably find new opportunities for compromise. With more devices coming online every day, we anticipate that cybercriminals will take greater advantage of connected attacks in the future. A successful attack against 5G infrastructure could easily disrupt critical industries such as oil and gas, transportation, public safety, finance, and healthcare.
Navigating a New Era of Cybercrime
Cybercrime impacts everyone, and the ramifications of a breach are often far-reaching. Our security community can take a number of actions to better anticipate the next move of cybercriminals and disrupt their activities: collaborating across the public and private sectors to share threat intelligence, adopting standardized measures for incident reporting, and more. Organizations also have a vital role to play in disrupting cybercrime. This starts with creating a culture of cyber resilience—making cybersecurity everyone’s job—by implementing ongoing initiatives such as enterprise-wide cybersecurity education programs and more focused activities like tabletop exercises for executives.
Vishak Raman, Vice President of Sales, India, SAARC, SEAHK & ANZ, at Fortinet says, “The 2024 Threat Predictions Report from FortiGuard underscores the imminent escalation of advanced cyber threats driven by the proliferation of Cybercrime-as-a-Service and the impact of generative AI. With threat actors now equipped with advanced tools, employing stealthier techniques and diversifying their targets, a unified response from the cybersecurity community is imperative. Considering these revelations, the guidance is clear: organizations should actively cultivate a culture of cyber resilience and bridge the skills gap to strengthen their defenses against the rising sophistication of cyber adversaries. The report serves as a roadmap for navigating these evolving threats and provides actionable insights to empower organizations in securing the digital landscape.”
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