The Future of Cyber-security: Emerging Technologies and Trends

The Future of Cyber-security: Emerging Technologies and Trends

5 min read

The Future of Cyber-security: Emerging Technologies and Trends - PathGlow

Forewarned is Forearmed – this expression gains great significance in the wake of the widespread security threats that are plaguing cyberspace. Data breaches of various kinds are unfortunately increasing, resulting in companies having to shell out millions of dollars in settlements. One report places the total cybercrime damages in 2022 at USD 6 trillion, and estimates that over 33 billion accounts will be breached by 2023! These alarming numbers spell out the urgent need for cyber-security, in order to mitigate the risk of cyber-attacks – by securing data and protecting the privacy of all stakeholders. It is therefore important to create a cyber-conscious environment and implement best practices to secure data at every level, keeping hackers and crackers at bay.

We must remember that technology is a double-edged sword. Ubiquitous Connectivity, AI, Quantum Computing etc. are positively propelling the digital world forward, but are simultaneously grave potential risks to our ecosystem. ChatGPT for example, has several advantages, including its accuracy, efficiency, and superior user experience. But on the down side, its ability to mimic human conversation empowers hackers to use it for nefarious phishing activities and spiteful cyber-assaults.

To keep your systems safe, it is vital to stay ahead of fraudsters, by being consistently aware of emerging cyber threats and ensuring resilient systems that will safeguard confidential data that is frequently transmitted and stored online. It is important that the organisation, its staff, and every stakeholder is constantly aware of what they are up against, and take the necessary precautions, because ultimately the company’s data security is as vulnerable as its weakest link!

A good place to start is to be aware of the emerging cyber-security hazards like phishing attacks, ransomware, social engineering, and IoT attacks, as they have resulted in significantly denting the bottom lines of companies, damaging their reputation, and dragging them into legal battles. It’s also equally important to keep abreast of cutting-edge cyber-security technologies, to sharpen the positive side of the technology sword.

Overview of Cyber-security related Trends:
  • The Internet of Things (IoT) is steadily evolving.
  • Remote work has become a norm.
  • Ransomware is becoming more rampant.
  • Cloud services as well as cloud security threats are on the rise.
  • Social Engineering attacks are getting more intelligent, increasing cyber-threats.
  • Data privacy is a huge concern.
  • Multi-factor authentication is improving.
  • Artificial intelligence (AI) is finding increasing takers.
  • Cyber-security experts are in short supply hence automation is vital for bolstering cyber-security.
  • There is a great focus on Mobile cyber-security.
Emerging Cyber-security Threats and Technologies

Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML)

AI and ML are great for automating repetitive task, avoiding human errors, aiding in decision making and problem solving. Unfortunately they are also tools in the hands of the dark world operators who use it for deepfakes, spear-phishing and doctoring data. To counter these cyber security risks, it’s important to use AI and ML to gather information on cyber-security attacks and viral threats; exploit AI’s analytic ability to identify and classify risks; build intelligent databases that can help project and counter these risks, thus improving system defences against cyber-criminals.

Behavioural Biometrics

Research reveals that genuine customers and cyber-criminals interact differently with digital platforms. Behavioural biometrics therefore goes beyond physical biometrics of fingerprints and iris scans, to validate behavioural traits of users – like keystroke dynamics, gait analysis, cognitive biometrics, and signature analysis. Behavioural Biometrics therefore greatly helps in identifying a hacker’s digital, physical, and cognitive behaviour; and differentiates it from the authenticated user’s analysed behaviour, in an attempt to identify fraud and identity theft.

Zero Trust Architecture

Zero Trust Architecture is an increasingly popular cyber-security principle, aimed at designing and building highly automated fool-proof systems that operate on a premise that no part of a computer and networking system can be implicitly trusted, including the human operators. It aggressively promotes the principle that processes must be consistently geared for continuous digital vigilance to confirm that systems and their components are operating appropriately – typically under a “least privilege” model that limits each entity’s access to need-based resources only.

Blockchain

Blockchain is another good technology to keep at bay cyber-security risks, as it is based on decentralisation as a means of promoting a more secure way of storing and sharing data. Cloud computing comes with inherent risks as it often involves an outsourced agency running your IT infrastructure, storing your sensitive data, etc. Blockchain improves cloud security by improving data security, especially the confidentiality, privacy, integrity and availability of data. There are provisions to set the required security levels for the system as a whole, as well as at the individual record level. Blockchain technology increases transparency, immutability, and decentralisation.

Quantum Computing

Quantum random number generation is a non-negotiable essential for cryptography, but the conventional random number generators are not strictly random and can therefore expose cryptography to potential cyber threats. Quantum machine learning which has great potential to enable exponentially faster, more time/energy-efficient machine learning algorithms, is an emerging technology aimed at generating more effective algorithms for identifying and defeating novel cyber-attack methods. The flip side is that criminal minds could in future potentially use Quantum Computing to break the cryptographic foundations of the world’s digital infrastructure, on which the digital economy relies.

A sufficiently powerful and error-corrected quantum computer would solve some of the classical mathematical problems on which cryptography methods rely and hence research is on to develop quantum-resistant public-key cryptographic algorithms. Microsoft, Google, IBM, Intel, and many governments are working on building the first large-scale quantum computer. IBM’s target is to deliver a 1,121-qubit Condor processor in 2023 along with the Heron processor, which will become the stepping stone to solving the quantum computing scaling problem.

Internet of Things (IoT) and Industrial Control Systems (ICS) Security

The Internet of Things (IoT) is a collective name for the network of physical objects which are embedded with sensors, software, and other technologies, to enable them to connect and exchange data with other devices and systems over the internet. There are millions of such devices ranging from ordinary household objects to sophisticated industrial tools that do not necessarily follow security protocols, and are therefore highly susceptible to botnet attacks.

In order to reduce the risks, it is important to enhance monitoring of these devices using Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS), and Security Information and Event Management (SIEM) Systems. Cyber-security Threat Intelligence can also help to profile attackers and accordingly put in place security controls for IoT and ICS. Encryption of stored and transmitted data, and heightened authentication schemes will help regulate connections. Complying with IoT and ICS Cyber-security Standards recommended by the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) can greatly enhance cyber-security.

Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs)

APTs are a grave cyber-security threat as they have the potential to disrupt business operations and gain unauthorised access to systems without users’ knowing it. The fact that these meticulously planned attacks allow cyber-criminals to go undetected in networks, enables them to steal sensitive information over considerably extended time frames. Operational Technology is the gateway for cyber-criminals to sneak in and take charge of the Industrial Control Systems that are not equipped with constantly updated protective software. Web Application Firewalls and API gateways are ways to keep web applications safe. Ideally these should be combined with API security solutions to detect misconfigurations and prevent API-related cyber-attacks. Frequent patching and hardening of the infrastructure, network, and software components will go a long way in containing cyber-security risks for critical systems.

With the growing intensity of cyber-attacks, it is vital for organisations to take all steps to ward off the attacks by being better prepared. Keeping in mind the age old adage –Prevention is better than cure – here are some tips for being cyber-secure.

Pointers for Better Cyber-security Resilience:
  • Equip the security team with collaborative tools to enable constant communication within the team and other business functions.
  • Consistently and diligently evaluate and boost cyber-security.
  • Keep abreast of the latest offensive and defensive security measures.
  • Keep staff regularly updated with emerging risks associated with adopting new platforms and next-gen technologies.
  • Align Security and Management strategies and best practices incrementally with business objectives to put in place advanced threat protection and cyber resilience.
  • Adopt Zero Trust Architecture and automate for intensified cyber-security.
  • Recognise supply chain risks and ensure vendors are adequately cyber-secured.
  • Improve response capabilities to ransomware and ensure efficient co-ordination between the Cyber-security team, Admin, Legal, PR and other relevant teams.

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