The cybersecurity industry continues to be in constant flux. While organizations strive to harden their systems against discovered vulnerabilities, attackers keep crafting newer mechanisms to attack tech stacks. The growing reliance on computing systems for business and personal functions enables attackers to exploit sensitive information and compromise organizational operations. It is, therefore, crucial for developers and security professionals to keep an eye on emerging cyber security trends for dynamic threat modeling and mitigation. This trend report explores the top cybersecurity trends for 2022 and how these can potentially impact global businesses and users alike.
Inherent Cloud Vulnerabilities
While cloud deployments offer flexibility and cost savings, inherent vulnerabilities in cloud services continue to pose considerable cybersecurity risks to modern organizations. Because of the complexities associated with multiple geographically distributed devices and third-party integrations, most organizations struggle to implement comprehensive security controls to inhibit attack vectors.
As per a recent study, cloud security misconfiguration for remote workstations and external APIs interacting with third-party services are the primary causes of data leakage and unauthorized access to cloud-based assets. To overcome this, organizations are now adopting the Cloud Security Posture Management (CSPM) that helps them identify and prevent misconfiguration while automating compliance and security administration.
Apart from this, DevSecOps is now a mainstream framework that helps organizations adopt a shift left for security approach. This essentially implies that security is considered at par with all other aspects of a development workflow since the very initial stages of SDLC.
Security for Remote Work
Organizations adjusted business models to facilitate remote working culture due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This new normal has introduced a new wave of vulnerabilities arising from the inadequate implementation of security policies, disparate network infrastructure, and lack of knowledge to harden security for remote devices. Throughout the pandemic, attackers discovered new approaches to exploit network security vulnerabilities such as improper firewall implementation, insecure broadband connections, and single-layer protection leading to data breaches.
The counteraction led organizations to focus on administering robust controls to enforce data safety and swift incidence response for remote work arrangements. To secure decentralized access, organizations are also adopting a zero-trust approach for sensitive data while imparting organization-wide training to ensure every stakeholder knows and observes security best practices.
The identity-first security program helps organizations offer secure resource access for distributed deployments. This approach emphasizes user identity verification rather than authorizing users through the traditional method of login credentials that hackers can easily compromise. The technique also leverages Identity Detection and Response (IDR) mechanisms to detect user profiles that have been compromised or used to initiate attacks, helping security teams to mitigate persistent threats.
The recent trend highlights an identity-first security strategy extending beyond authentication and authorization to include a broader range of access controls, including session management and threat modeling for holistic resource protection. Two of the most common identity-based security measures used in modern applications are Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) and Single Sign-On (SSO).
Modern applications are built using tech stacks that integrate multiple frameworks, packages, and plugins. While the inclusion of third-party integrations often simplifies development workflows, it offers less oversight of the used application resources. Additionally, using multiple third-party integrations increases the need for human effort to piece together the safety measures implemented across disconnected points. This sprawl in security controls often reduces the effectiveness of cyber security efforts that requires a security team to put more focus on patching vulnerabilities introduced by each integration.
A recent survey projects nearly 50% of enterprises are currently pursuing a vendor consolidation strategy to enforce a unified approach for detecting, identifying, and remediating security threats. Consolidating third-party tools and security vendors helps simplify security operations. A key strategy for vendor consolidation is also the defense-in-depth approach. Teams carefully examine the entire vendor network and IT infrastructure to identify gaps and overlaps in security implementation.
With over 71% of data breaches in 2020-21 being financially motivated, Ransomware attacks continue to be one of the most followed trends in cybersecurity. In this type of attack, threat actors deploy malicious software that enables them to seize computing data or resources illegally. In return for confiscating sensitive content or unblocking organization access, attackers demand a ransom. A Ransomware attack typically targets industries that use specific software to store large amounts of personally identifiable information.
Cyber syndicates continuously enhance their exploits through emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, and cryptocurrencies, so the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA) attributes the growth to a rise in ransom payments from firms that try to avoid the backlash of a successful attack. Although organizations are adopting regulatory guidances and embracing tools to harden their security postures, the evolving threat landscape continues to be alarming.
GDPR Compliance for Data Privacy
With data privacy laws being enforced across several countries, organizations now emphasize having data privacy officers within their cybersecurity team to help their businesses and services comply with mandatory and security regulations. Organizations are also enforcing measures like data encryption in transit and at rest, role-based logins, multi-factor authentications, credential protection, and network segmentation to intensify data privacy.
Numerous cyberattacks leading to the exposure of sensitive information belonging to organizations/customers have now enforced the introduction of federal, state-level, and international data privacy laws such as the EU GDPR.
GDPR imposes a unified and consistent data protection law for all European Union(EU) member states. While it is meant to protect the citizens of EU states, the regulation had a spiraling effect on global data security efforts since the regulation covers all goods and services marketed/sold to EU nations. The law requires organizations to collect, process, and persist user data under legally set guidelines. The regulation also provides protocols to protect this data from potential exploitation, misuse, and guidance on respecting users’ rights who own the data.
The GDPR compliance requirements involve:
1. Establishing a legal and transparent data processing method
2. Reviewing data protection policies
3. Determining the independent public authority that monitors compliance
4. Conduct an assessment of the impacts of data protection efforts
5. Verify the existence and effectiveness of user privacy rights
6. Hire a data protection officer
7. Enforce company-wide training on secure data processing
With the rapid expansion of the cybersecurity threat landscape, creating custom security solutions, quality audits, and control processes for mitigating threats are an enormous cost overhead for organizations. Organizations are now leaning towards Security-as-a-Service (SECaaS), a cloud-based managed security service to overcome the challenges, efforts, and costs associated with maintaining robust security.
SECaaS is a growing industry that helps businesses reduce the workload on their in-house cybersecurity teams while allowing them to scale security controls as the business grows seamlessly. Apart from allowing organizations to utilize the latest security functions, updates, and features security experts provide, the SECaaS model also helps save costs by reducing manual overhead and redundant efforts toward threat mitigation.
Most SECaaS offerings offer security at a granular level, with the most commonly outsourced security services including:
2. Email security
3. Intrusion protection
4. Network security
5. Security Information and Event Management
6. Business continuity and disaster recovery
Cybersecurity Mesh Architecture (CSMA)
Developed by Gartner, CSMA is one of the most popular strategic cybersecurity trends of 2022 that provides organizations with a flexible and collaborative framework for security architecture.
With the growing number of cyberthreats, organizations are tasked with continuous assessment and threat modeling to mitigate risks associated with their complex tech stacks. The cybersecurity mesh helps overcome the challenge of security silos by defining a framework that unifies security solutions for hybrid and multi-cloud environments.
The CSMA strategy provides a flexible, collaborative approach to security architecture by modularizing security activities and enforcing interoperability using four supportive layers. These layers are:
1. Implementing analytics and intelligence by using past data to predict and avert future cybersecurity attacks
2. Decentralized identity management
3. Consolidates dashboards for unified security management
4. Consolidated policy and posture management
Mobile Security Threats
With up to 92% of the world’s population now owning a hand-held device, the modern work environment introduced the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and remote work culture that relies on personal devices being granted the required privileges to access sensitive data and critical infrastructure.
While the culture stimulates efficient collaboration, increased workplace mobility, and reduced expenses toward device and software licenses, security continues to be a prime challenge.
Common malicious traffic from mobile devices includes:
1. Commands originating from malware installed on a device
2. Redirects to malicious URLs and websites
3. Phishing messages used for obtaining authentication data
Accessing public wi-fi and collaboration tools on mobile devices exposes potential security gaps that facilitate various forms of phishing attacks for obtaining credentials or sensitive data. Some of the most common mobile security threats include:
1. Data leakage
2. Network spoofing
3. Spyware and malware installation
4. Unprotected wi-fi connections
5. E-commerce fraud
6. Account takeovers
The changing dynamics of the cybersecurity landscape require businesses to take countermeasures to avert risks and vulnerabilities proactively. While technology helps organizations achieve rapid growth and embrace innovation, it is also susceptible to attack vectors and numerous security risks.
Security must be considered a continuous and dynamic process. Crashtest Security Suite offers an automated penetration testing and vulnerability scanning tool that helps reduce security exposure for web applications and APIs.
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Sudip is a Norwich, UK based Technical Writer who writes content on Cloud, DevOps and Cyber Security. He possesses more than 15 years of working experience as a Solution Architect in IT Infrastructure, and is an avid traveler and follower of sports.