15 Nov / 2023
Cybersecurity professionals tirelessly match wits with cybercriminals, who are continuously honing their strategies. In 2023, the digital landscape has evolved rapidly, with artificial intelligence, sophisticated social engineering tactics, and geopolitical phishing reshaping the threat environment. Given the stiffening regulatory repercussions and cyber requirements, it's imperative for Australian organisations to bolster their defences against these emerging and increasingly complex cyber threats.
Here’s an overview of the prevailing cyber attack styles of 2023 that have significant implications for what executives need to strategise for in 2024.
In 2023, ransomware continued to dominate Australia's cybersecurity landscape, constituting 24% of cyberattacks, with the dreaded double extortion method being a persistent menace. Organised crime actors, motivated by financial gain, were responsible for this alarming trend.
Up to July 2023, SOCRadar's Dark Web analysts identified 30 ransomware attacks on Australian institutions. These attacks were executed by 14 distinct ransomware groups, revealing the evolving threat landscape.
Ransomware attacks were distributed across various Australian industries, raising concerns about sector-specific targeting. Notable incidents included:
These incidents emphasise the need for heightened cybersecurity vigilance as ransomware threats persist and evolve in Australia.
Malicious actors are becoming increasingly sophisticated and intelligent operating in a corporate manner. Recent examples include using risks of fines against their targets. Take the Ransomware attack on Sony by Ransomedvc. Ransomedvc positions itself as a group of “penetration testers” who seek compensation for their “professional services' ' and say they’re working in compliance with GDPR and Data Privacy Laws. In one communication with victims via their telegram channel they said “I heard you do not wanna pay me?” “Well then lets (sic) start with leaking a few customers to the public. I wonder what the GDPR agency will think about our relationship?”
Incredibly, the group describes themselves as a ‘Leading Company in Digital Peace Tax’, attempting to legitimise themselves as public service providers rather than black hats.
Their page on the dark web states: ‘We offer secure solutions for addressing data security vulnerabilities within companies. As penetration testers, we seek compensation for our professional services. Our operations are conducted in strict compliance with GDPR and Data Privacy Laws. In cases where payment is not received, we are obligated to report a Data Privacy Law violation to the GDPR agency!.’
While Ransomedvc largely operates across the US and Europe, Australian organisations should be on the watch for similar tactics as hackers become increasingly business-like in their strategies.
2023 marked the ascendancy of AI-directed cyberattacks. Threat actors rapidly embraced AI to expedite the development of new malware and ransomware variants. This approach proved to be a cost-efficient strategy, allowing cybercriminals to stay one step ahead of traditional security measures. Furthermore, deepfake technologies entered the scene, enabling phishing and impersonation attacks of unprecedented sophistication.
As we look ahead to 2024, it's crucial to remain vigilant in the face of evolving AI attacks. Here are the key trends and developments to keep a close eye on:
Social engineering emerged as a formidable threat in 2023. Cybercriminals, recognising the human element as a vulnerable entry point, continued to refine their tactics in psychological manipulation. Here's a look at the prevalent social engineering threats that defined the year:
We anticipate the art of social engineering to evolve exponentially in 2024. Here's a glimpse of what to remain vigilant against in the coming year:
In 2023, cyber threats evolved significantly, with ransomware, AI-driven attacks, and sophisticated social engineering tactics taking centre stage. CEOs and CIOs must proactively prepare for 2024's cybersecurity challenges. Ransomware continued to plague various industries, demanding robust defences. Malicious AI and deepfake technologies propelled cybercriminals, necessitating AI-driven cybersecurity solutions. Social engineering tactics became more refined.
To confront these threats, partnering with pen testing services like Cythera is crucial, and just the beginning of improving your cyber resiliency posture. Download our complimentary Pen Testing 2024 Checklist to fortify your cybersecurity strategy and protect your organisation from emerging risks.
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