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Five Cybersecurity and AI Predictions for 2024: Darktrace

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Cambridge-based Darktrace has revealed its top five predictions for cybersecurity and AI in 2024 following a critical year in AI development.

These insights, derived from expert analyses and business trends, forecast a year of significant change and challenge in the cyber domain, with real-world implications. A rise in climate hacktivism, escalating multilingual AI threats and the first ‘AI worm’ are among the key predictions from Darktrace’s experts

Exploited elections

The coming year will be crucial for democracy and high-stakes elections, as Russia, Ukraine, the UK, and the US potentially hit the polls to elect their leaders.

The use of cyber attacks to manipulate voters is nothing new. Still, this year could see a new weapon exploited – AI-generated deepfakes and propaganda, to either destabilize the vote or amplify one candidate over another. This capability is more accessible than ever and while outlandish statements might be relatively easy to refute, subtle alterations and manipulations of content could be enough to sow elements of doubt.

Other techniques might be resurrected, like using stolen political and electoral data, which we saw in the 2016 US election and UK’s Brexit referendum. Voters must be mindful of the content they consume and the reputability of their sources.

Cyber threats go multilingual

For decades, most cyber-enabled social engineering, like phishing, has been carried out in English, the international language of business. This made the Asia-Pacific region, home to diverse and complex languages, a relative haven from attackers.

However, Generative AI has dramatically dropped the barrier to entry for composing text in foreign languages. We can expect attackers to add new language capabilities previously viewed as too complex to be worth the effort, including Mandarin, Japanese, Korean and Hindi. Employees will compound that threat coached to look out for phishing emails written in English but not their language, to make phishing in new languages a fertile ground for attackers and a weak spot for APAC’s businesses.

Businesses face additional AI dangers

Businesses must be wary of malicious actors, nation-states, and ransomware groups that will continue leveraging AI’s widespread adoption.

Businesses must prepare for this and the danger of advancing threats. Twenty-twenty-four may also be the year we see the first AI worm deployed – combining traditional worming ransomware like WannaCry or notPetya with more advanced, AI-driven automation to create an aggressive autonomous agent capable of burrowing into business’ software.

Rise of climate hacktivism

Darktrace anticipates a new wave of eco-activism, marking 2024 as the year of climate ‘hacktivism’ in cyberspace. Over the past year, climate change campaigners have caused significant disruption through physical protests, but experts predict that the next protest phase could be cyber-led.

Campaigners may target fossil fuel companies with AI-powered, sophisticated cyber-attacks, which will disrupt, damage and send a firm message to polluters.

Cloud: the Achilles Heel for businesses’ cybersecurity

Cloud environments are increasingly becoming a source of vulnerability for businesses – and this is set to continue in the coming year. There is a shortage of expertise and skills when dealing with the cloud, and as more data storage and processing shifts to the cloud, these platforms will become even more of a prime target for cybercriminals. Businesses will need to recognize and address this vulnerability.

Toby Lewis, Global Head of Threat Analysis at Darktrace, said: “Twenty-twenty-three was a pivotal year in AI development and adoption, but as governments and businesses have woken up to the AI revolution, so too have cybercriminals and we are seeing increasing evidence that they are seizing these tools for their gain.

“This will only accelerate in 2024. Significant global events and trends will become a target for those looking to exploit and disrupt, while generative AI will open doors for more advanced multilingual attacks and climate ‘hacktivism.’

“This underscores the need for advanced, AI-driven cybersecurity solutions. As bad actors become smarter and more sophisticated, businesses need to be equipped with the tools to prevent and protect, and the public be increasingly wary of their data and the content they consume.”

Darktrace employs over 2,200 people worldwide and protects approximately 8,900 customers globally from advanced cyber threats. Darktrace innovations at its Cyber AI Research Centre in Cambridge, UK, have resulted in over 160 patents filed and research published to contribute to the cyber security community.

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