What are the Challenges of Cybersecurity in the Near Future?

Published November 6, 2023
by Jordan Hickam

Cybersecurity threats and cyberattacks on critical infrastructure, government entities, and businesses of all sizes are becoming more prevalent worldwide. Data from Check Point Research claims that 2022 saw a 38% increase in global cyberattacks over the year prior. A leading researcher on the global economy, Cyber Ventures predicts global cybercrime damage will total $10.5 trillion annually by 2025. In the lightning-paced and ever-evolving world of technology, unprecedented challenges loom. Organizations not looking ahead to future cybersecurity challenges risk exposure to a debilitating attack or data breach. While it’s impossible to predict and prepare for specific new attacks, there are some trends that organizations can address now to prepare for a more cyber-secure future.

1. Cyber-Physical Systems (CPS) Security

Cyber-physical systems (CPS) security is an emerging critical field focusing on the security of systems that interconnect digital components with real objects and physical processes. CPS applications combine computational and physical tools such as sensors, actuators, and control systems and are often related to products and services utilizing the Internet of Things (IoT). They integrate digital and physical aspects to affect life and businesses across services and applications such as smart buildings, supply chains, e-commerce, and more.

Additional examples of combining digital and physical tools include technologies used in autonomous cars, network-connected healthcare devices, building automation, or other online operations and utility infrastructure.

CPS systems introduce new vulnerabilities, expanding cybercriminals’ potential attack surfaces and entry points both digitally and physically. Because these systems are highly interconnected, they are more susceptible to cascading failures. An attack on one component can have a domino effect, causing widespread damage. Integration into critical infrastructure makes CPS systems vulnerable and attractive targets, and ongoing adoption will require advanced and innovative cybersecurity solutions balancing safety and performance possibilities.

Gartner cybersecurity analysts predict that by 2025, threat actors will successfully weaponize operational technology environments enough to cause human casualties. A 2021 cyberattack on a Florida water treatment plant attempted to increase the amount of sodium hydroxide in the water supply to potentially dangerous levels, for example. While that intrusion was prevented before it could be carried out, a recent Gartner survey ranked IoT and cyber-physical systems as security and risk leaders’ top concerns of the coming years.

Ransomware attacks have already disrupted logistical operations and shuttered steel production. Increased WiFi and Bluetooth technologies in advanced or self-driving automobiles will make them increasingly vulnerable to hacking or cyberattacks without strict cybersecurity measures.

CPS applications can collect massive amounts of data. Ensuring that data is handled responsibly and stored securely should be a major concern and priority for organizations adopting cyber-physical systems.

2. Artificial Intelligence

Artificial intelligence (AI) is an evolving tool for its potential to cause harm. Further advancements by ChatGPT and similar language-based AI tools will continue to simplify cybercriminals’ jobs. Phishing attacks and social engineering scams have been relatively recognizable for years due to frequent misspellings, grammatical errors, and awkward phrasing mistakes, especially when English isn’t the perpetrator’s native language. Language-based AIs provide cybercriminals with instant access to near fluency in English and an ability to strengthen their phishing scams’ effectiveness.

While ChatGPT and similar open-source AI programs won’t generate code deemed dangerous or malicious—yet, at least—Analytical Insight reported that an Israeli security firm discovered a thread on an underground hacking site by a user claiming to use ChatGPT to help recreate malware strains. 

Emerging generative AI programs can also be used by white-hat hackers for good, and “AI checker” tools are already in use to detect email language that could be lurking as a phishing attack. AI-powered solutions could grow to help identify and respond to cyber threats in real-time or identify vulnerabilities and potential attack vectors, enhancing protection in ways today’s traditional security measures can’t match. But as the technologies continue to evolve, AI could become one of the most harmful weapons on the horizon.

3. Cybercrime-as-a-Service (CaaS)

In a similar vein to now-familiar cloud offerings such as software-as-a-service (SaaS), platform-as-a-service (PaaS), and infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS), the cybercrime-as-a-service (CaaS) model makes the tools and resources for carrying out cyberattacks much more widely available to new customers and threat actors.

The digital underground black markets that rent and sell a range of advanced cyberattack tools, services, and resources lower the barrier to entry and make cybercrime activities more available to a wider range of individuals. For hackers and criminals intent on launching disruptive cyberattacks, CaaS represents an affordable and cost-effective way to do so by utilizing nearly untraceable cryptocurrency payments and a widespread global network of providers.

The emerging cybercrime-as-a-service economy is on the rise. It already accumulates the knowledge, tools, and resources of millions of cyber criminals, making them easily available to any malicious groups or individuals intent on launching an attack. While law enforcement agencies have taken down many CaaS marketplaces, they’ll only continue to pop up and operate in the shadows of the “dark web” in the years to come, making it easier for inexperienced cybercriminals to stage increasingly complex attacks or perform sophisticated data breaches. 

4. Labor Shortage

While the cybersecurity workforce has grown rapidly in recent years, demand for talented professionals continues to grow even faster. The world’s leading member association for cybersecurity professionals, the International Information System Security Certification Consortium or (ISC), projects that a skilled worker shortage will be among the biggest cybersecurity challenges in the next few years. Per its latest Cybersecurity Workforce Study, (ISC)2 found that while the cyber workforce grew by 11% in 2022, the talent gap grew by 26.2%.

Identifying and recruiting cybersecurity talent can be difficult, as many candidates may lack the formal education or certifications needed, making it critical to innovate recruitment strategies. As the demand for cybersecurity talent grows, organizations must compete for a limited pool of qualified professionals. This competition can drive up salaries and benefits, making it expensive for organizations to hire and retain talent. 

Prepare for the Future with RAMPxchange

Cybercrime-as-a-service marketplaces and other emerging threats may be on the rise. The cybersecurity marketplace and a coalition of committed cyber defenders are also assembling to protect the future and enhance the cybersecurity posture of our world. The RAMPxchange marketplace gathers leading public and private sector organizations under one digital roof, giving buyers and sellers convenient access to industry experts, thought leadership, and proven providers ready to combat the threats of tomorrow and beyond. Contact the RAMPxchange team to learn more and join today.