According to Cybersecurity Ventures, the number of unfilled cybersecurity roles rose to 3.5 million from 2013 to 2021. FireEye, another prominent IT data firm, expects that number to continue to grow. Add to that the fact that only about 330,000 new computer science grads enter the job market each year, it’s easy to see that senior IT staffers have some challenges on their hands.
Network attacks have reached their highest numbers in three years, and according to the U.S. government, state-sponsored cyber threats used during warfare are escalating to unprecedented levels. The recent cyberattack from North Korea is the first of many to come. However, amidst all the “doom and gloom,” there is some good news on the horizon.
Recently, cybersecurity experts have noticed an interesting trend emerging. Although we’re seeing some digital threats trend upwards, critical cyberattacks appear to be slowing down. This decrease in critical damage is good news, but there are still attacks on the horizon that require protection.
These high and medium-level attacks are coming from several different sources. There have been approximately 7,200 CVEs with a CVSSv3 rating of “high” severity so far this year. These attacks have been tracked across a wide range of technology and varied in functional impact from minor attacks to events that could turn into more severe intrusions like remote control executions (RCEs).
Emerging Trends in Cybersecurity Threats
Like all technology, digital threat tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) are evolving to include methods IT professionals have never seen before.
4 Emerging Trends in Cybersecurity Threats
- Aging systems
- Cyber warfare and collateral damage
- Remote work
- Bring your own device (BYOD)
1. Aging Systems
New research has been done into the depths of computer operating systems. Naturally, probing the lesser-known corners of intricate software has uncovered new vulnerabilities and opportunities for hackers — some of which exploit technology that’s several decades old but still can cause very serious damage.
2. Cyber Warfare and Collateral Damage
Additionally, global superpowers are becoming increasingly clever with regard to digital warfare. Some countries are beginning to indirectly attack systems through major service providers. Since businesses use these same providers, corporate systems are seeing some trickle-down damage from the cyberattacks launched on the international level.
3. Remote Work
America’s recent trend toward remote work is also making today’s cyberattacks unique. The global COVID-19 pandemic has caused businesses to shift their employees toward a “work from home” office environment. While it’s been great for work-life balance and many other corporate benefits, remote work has been a nightmare for cybersecurity professionals. Employees’ endpoint computers are now scattered across countless locations, and most companies rely heavily on cloud technology. With the vast majority of businesses constantly operating in cyberspace, cybersecurity pros need to be creative in coming up with ways to mitigate security risks.
4. Bring Your Own Device (BYOD)
Although a rising number of companies rely on remote work, not all companies are in a position to provide equipment to their employees. As a result, many employees work in a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) environment. These personal computers typically aren’t held to the same security standard as hardware in a corporate setting, making infiltration by hackers and digital threat actors that much easier. We’re seeing this phenomenon worsened by the fact that employees can’t turn and ask co-workers if they sent a specific email, which is also leading to a rise in successful phishing attacks.
Real-World Cybersecurity Threat Examples
Providing excellent cybersecurity means focusing on more than just providing the proper tools. Staying up-to-date on the latest threats and attacks helps cybersecurity professionals do better work for their clients.
One of the most impactful recent attacks was the SolarWinds Orion Supply Chain Attack. Perpetrated by one of Russia’s most infamous hackers, “Cozy Bear” (or Apt 29), this attack leveraged SolarWinds’ network monitoring software to create a “backdoor” into the accounts of SolarWinds’ 18,000 customers. Of these, only approximately 109 were exploited, including the National Nuclear Security Administration (which maintains the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile), the Sandia and Los Alamos National Laboratories, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, and others.
With this large-scale attack, Russia aimed to use it to more nefarious ends like undermining Western democratic systems, infiltrating COVID-19 wellness centers to deploy malware, and much more. The U.S. and British governments both felt it necessary to call attention to these attacks so allies at home and abroad could better protect themselves.
The Apache Log4j critical vulnerability attack was also unique because of the widespread impact. Hackers were able to exploit the Log4j vulnerability of the Apache logging library. By infiltrating Apache, hackers gained access to millions of accounts on Java-based app platforms. Because of its devastating impact, this attack received a CVSSv10 rating.
Whether attacks are increasing or decreasing, and regardless of their severity, companies must continue to invest in cybersecurity protections. Even the tech giants, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft, are making every effort to safeguard their cloud environments by acquiring smaller cybersecurity companies — which begs the question: how secure are you?