In today’s digital world, data is the lifeblood of organizations. It fuels decision-making, drives innovation, and is at the heart of every successful operation. However, as we march forward into 2024, the landscape of data security is more challenging and dynamic than ever before. New data security threats, both technological and human-driven, are on the horizon, demanding heightened vigilance and innovative solutions. 

The ability to proactively recognize and mitigate these threats is key to both protecting your most vital assets and maintaining regulatory compliance. In this article, we’ll examine some of the most prominent emerging data security threats to watch in 2024 as well as how organizations can comprehensively address them. 

Top Emerging Data Security Threats in 2024

AI-Powered Cyberattacks: The Rise of Adversarial AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) is a double-edged sword. While it powers many of our conveniences, it can also be harnessed for malicious purposes. In practical terms, AI technology has given rise to two distinct data security threats.

Firstly, generative AI’s ability to create convincing, human-like personas has made social engineering threats increasingly difficult to detect. The newfound accessibility of sophisticated machine learning tools also makes it easier for hackers to set an AI program to break through firewalls by trying endless combinations of possible credentials in “brute force” style attacks. 

This is not to say that AI is all bad news for cybersecurity. New tools, such as the innovative Protective Cloud Services (PCS) platform from GuardDog AI, can scan and analyze network traffic, proactively automating incident response steps to save precious time when responding to perimeter breaches. 

The Ransomware Evolution: Double Extortion and Beyond

Ransomware is evolving, and it’s not just about encrypting your data anymore. Ransomware capabilities and tactics have undergone a significant transformation in recent times, extending beyond the conventional act of encrypting data and posing even more potent threats to organizations. 

One notable evolution in this malicious strategy is the adoption of “double extortion” tactics. Instead of merely locking data away, cybercriminals are now leveraging the stolen data as an additional weapon in their arsenal. This entails a two-pronged approach. Alongside encrypting the victim’s data, attackers also threaten to publicly expose sensitive information unless a ransom is paid. This strategic shift underscores a fundamental realization made by cybercriminals — that data is not just valuable to the targeted organizations, but can be equally valuable to the attackers themselves. 

Supply Chain Vulnerabilities: Data Risks Beyond Your Control

The global digital supply chain is intricate, and data flows through it like a circulatory system. But it’s also a point of vulnerability. Attacks on this supply chain can have catastrophic repercussions, extending far beyond the organization directly targeted. 

The interconnected nature of supply chains means that a breach in one part of the network can potentially impact the data and operations of countless partners, creating a domino effect of data risks. As supply chains become increasingly global and digitally driven, safeguarding sensitive data throughout this intricate web has become crucial.

IoT and IIoT Devices: A Growing Attack Surface

The Internet of Things (IoT) is expanding exponentially, but so are its security risks. This is true in both private applications and the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT). These devices collect and transmit data, which, while extremely useful, also widens the network edge, increasing the number of potential entry points into your system. 

Improperly secured IoT and IIoT devices can quickly transform from convenient tools to potential entry points for cybercriminals seeking to exploit vulnerabilities. These devices frequently lack robust security measures, leaving them susceptible to a variety of threats. Whether it’s a smart thermostat in a home or a sensor controlling a vital manufacturing process in an industrial setting, the security of these devices is paramount. 

Quantum Computing: A New Frontier for Cyber Threats

Quantum computing, once a realm of science fiction, is now becoming a reality. As we inch closer to practical quantum applications, the implications for data security are profound. Current encryption methods, which rely on the computational difficulty of factoring large numbers, may crumble in the face of quantum algorithms. 

Data security has traditionally provided a layered defense against intrusions. This is largely predicated on the assumption that a sufficiently layered defense-in-depth framework can counter intrusions. However, these defenses are built on computational limitations that quantum computers are poised to obliterate. Once useable quantum computing capability reaches the hands of malicious actors, the standard security algorithms that guard much of our most sensitive data today could be effortlessly decrypted. 

Insider Threats: The Danger Within

Insider threats, whether due to malice or negligence, are a persistent concern. These dangers even emanate from people you trust — your employees, contractors, or business partners. The issue with insider threats is that they’re not easy to spot because they’re coming from within your trusted circle.

Whether it’s someone intentionally leaking sensitive data to competitors or a well-meaning employee accidentally clicking on a malicious link, the result can be disastrous. When addressing insider threats, it’s not about securing your network’s external perimeter; it’s about safeguarding your internal secrets from those you trust the most.

The New Foundation of Data Resilience

As we move into 2024, the evolving data security landscape is both promising and perilous. New technologies bring unprecedented opportunities, but they also open doors to novel threats. In this era of data-driven decision-making, one thing is clear: improving data security to match these emerging threat vectors is not a luxury, but a necessity.

In the face of these powerful new data security threats, incremental improvements to existing network perimeters are insufficient. Instead, leaders are looking toward a new paradigm of data security. 

To address these and other mounting data security threats, leaders have begun to approach data as not just something to be safeguarded by perimeters, but as a vigilant protector in its own right. This means that data takes on an active role in looking after itself. So, whether your data is sitting safely within your company’s computer systems, floating up in the cloud, or traveling to another business, it’s always watching out for threats. 

By integrating data-level security into your cyber defense strategy, you create a resilient fortress around your most valuable asset — your data. In the face of quantum computing, AI-powered attacks, evolving ransomware, complex supply chains, IoT vulnerabilities, insider threats, and regulatory mazes, data-level security remains your constant and reliable guardian. Instead of relying on outer defenses, you have an inner champion that keeps your data safe no matter where it is.

In the words of Sertainty CSO Amir Sternhell, “The Sertainty UXP Technology is setting the standards in the IIoT world by protecting and maintaining the integrity of a sensor command to overcome the acceleration in phishing, fakes, and sabotage, attributed to adversarial AI. Rest assured that this upcoming year will witness a glut of holistic Data-Chain-of-Provenance and Digital Twin implementations — premised on the Sertainty Zero-Trust design principles — to quell intrusions into our Industrial Control Systems (ICS) and ransomware attacks.” 

Staying Ahead of Data Security Threats with Sertainty

As a leader in data-level security and self-protecting data technology, Sertainty leverages proprietary processes that enable data to govern, track, and defend itself. These protocols mean that even if systems are compromised or accessed from the inside, all data stored in them remains secure. 

At Sertainty, we know that the ability to maintain secure files is the most valuable asset to your organization’s continued success. Our industry-leading Data Privacy Platform has pioneered data solutions that are intelligent and actionable, helping companies move forward with a proven and sustainable approach to their cybersecurity needs. 

As the digital landscape evolves and networks become more widely accessible, Sertainty is committed to providing self-protecting data solutions that adapt and grow to defend sensitive data. Security threats may be inevitable, but with Sertainty, privacy loss doesn’t have to be.