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The New Breed of Cybersecurity Threats

Cybersecurity is one of the fastest-growing sectors in the IT industry. Yet somehow, it’s not growing fast enough, especially when compared to the exponentially advancing range and scope of the latest breed of cyber threats that it’s designed to safeguard against.

“Fun” Fact #1: 1 in 5 Americans have faced ransomware attacks.

Surprisingly, many businesses have yet to fully understand the absolute necessity of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy, instead relying on antivirus subscriptions and/or a single IT guy who rarely has the necessary experience, expertise, or even resources to thwart a cyberattack. Make no mistake, attacks will keep coming, they will keep getting more sophisticated, and you or your business could be their next target.

“Fun” Fact #2: Costs incurred due to cybercrime could reach $6 trillion in 2021.

Cybersecurity Threats: The Newest and the Worst

Cybersecurity experts alarmingly believe that the worst is yet to come in the form of attacks utilizing the latest technologies like Artificial Intelligence or Machine Learning. And, without relevant cybersecurity protocols in place, there remains very little scope for the average business to protect themselves.

Cloud Vulnerability

Many business operations today rely either on a cloud-hosted environment or cloud-hosted software or platform. But the cloud is the single-most vulnerable point for cyberthreats, and such attacks have happened already.

Cloud storage solutions are the easiest access points because few organizations maintain even the most basic protocols to safeguard against a data breach. Misconfigured cloud storage buckets (i.e. data pools on the cloud) are proverbial sitting ducks, and loss or theft of data or intellectual property in the form of confidential documents come with huge monetary repercussions.

Insecure APIs, aka application program interfaces, represent another common point of vulnerability. As cloud storage providers finally pick up the pieces and offer centralized physical and virtual assets safeguarded by industry-grade encryption, cyberattackers are simply shifting to APIs as a counter move.

APIs are meant to make the cloud easier to access and utilize for business processes and their respective users. However, an API without the necessary authentication or authorization protocols in place can be located, targeted, and used as a vector to gain access into networks and servers, even with the necessary security in place.

AI Fuzzing

Businesses will continue implementing Artificial Intelligence functionalities into their operations to increase productivity.

“Fun” Fact #3: Nearly 15% of all B2C interactions are completely based on AI.

However, AI tools and technology are more readily available than ever before and can be used to manufacture cyberthreats as well.

AI Fuzzing is an under-development technique that helps AI engineers run automated checks on existing networks and applications for loopholes and bugs. The AI model is deployed externally on the target network or app where it aims to find vulnerabilities only as a demo.

Alarmingly though, industry experts believe this same technique can be used for cyberattacks, to not only find chinks in a network’s armour but also to exploit them and further program zero-day vulnerabilities.

AI fuzzing uses Machine Learning tech to determine bugs or vulnerabilities in single APIs, server nodes, etc. to create an entry point for a cyberattacker. What’s more, it can also be programmed to work as a vector as well.

Machine Learning Poisoning

Machine Learning is the farthest we have progressed with AI. An ML model can be created based on given input and output data sets, trained to use the most feasible and accurate logical process to relate between the data sets, and then deployed to perform the same actions.

ML is already in use to help assess and define large data pools based on multiple variables. In essence, ML is where we rely on the AI’s self-created logical interpretations to judge data.

Slightly altering the data set will make the ML model misinterpret data, thus creating loopholes in its judgment. This will essentially allow backdoor access into the otherwise foolproof ML models and in essence, also corrupt the model. This is machine learning poisoning, a new breed of cybersecurity threat that can only be thwarted by keeping the ML training data secure.

There’s also another format of troubling ML models that does not require access to input data. Known as adversarial machine learning, in this case, the attacker tries to find an addition to the input data that will force a trained ML model to misjudge it and allow the attacker to bypass the model.

Adversarial machine learning is typically used by ML experts to find loopholes in trained ML models, to help fine-tune against minute calibrations that may cause the model to go haywire.

Using these techniques to bypass an ML model is possible and it may not be long before such cyberattacks are recorded. And whether such attacks can be safeguarded against or even caught red-handed is still very much up for debate.

How does your organization handle vulnerability management? 

Smart Contract Hacking

Smart contracts are popularly considered as the next step forward to globalizing financial exchanges by removing the participation of a third party (i.e. banks) in such transactions.

These are simply contracts executed by a computer program as per the contract terms that are written in code. The program works as the mediator, thereby requiring no need for a third party to authenticate the transaction also duly completed by the program.

Smart contracts rely on blockchain technology, but poor coding can result in security lapses, which is why smart contract hacking is one of the most prominent next-gen cybersecurity threats today. Any user who uncovers a loophole in the code — whether it be intentionally or accidentally — can quickly gain access to the smart contract and transfer the funds without supervision anywhere across the world.

Cybersecurity: It Takes a Village

The relentlessly rising new forms of cybersecurity threats pose a serious question – Can they ever be stopped…let alone before they happen?

The answer depends on not just how well your business upholds fundamental cybersecurity protocols, but also on having the right (i.e. properly trained & experienced) personnel and/or partner protecting your business data and digital liquidity.

Shamrock Consulting Group both employs and partners with the industry’s top cybersecurity experts, dedicated to not simply promoting solutions based on SLAs. Shamrock is widely recognized as being on the bleeding edge of cybersecurity progressions, helping drive innovation for the industry as a whole and developing security models that can help businesses with holistic proactive cybersecurity solutions.

We have the resources to monitor threats, the expertise to strategically safeguard against data breaches, and the required firepower to neutralize them. Our experience in cybersecurity can save your network infrastructure and your IT-enabled operational business processes against even the latest breed of cyberattacks.

Ben Ferguson

Ben Ferguson

Ben Ferguson is the Vice President and Senior Network Architect for Shamrock Consulting Group, an industry leader in digital transformation solutions. Since his departure from Biochemical research in 2004, Ben has built core competencies around cloud direct connects and cloud cost reduction, enterprise wide area network architecture, high density data center deployments, cybersecurity and Voice over IP telephony. Ben has designed hundreds of complex networks for some of the largest companies in the world and he’s helped Shamrock become a top partner of the 3 largest public cloud platforms for AWS, Azure and GCP consulting. When he takes the occasional break from designing networks, he enjoys surfing, golf, working out, trying new restaurants and spending time with his wife, Linsey, his son, Weston and his dog, Hamilton.

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