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IBM Execs Sound Off on 2023 Cyber Predictions: More Ransomware, Cyber Sophistication

Expect to see more instances of ransomware, hackers-for-hire, zero trust problems, social engineering hitting industrial manufacturing, attackers finding ways to skirt new security tools, and more cyber generalists, automation and credential stealing in 2023, a compilation of top IBM security executives forecast.

IBM Executives Look Ahead

Here’s a slightly edited, abridged version of what they had to say.

On ransomware:

“With the distinct possibility of a global recession on the horizon, we expect to see ransomware attacks spike in 2023. However, larger organizations in regions heavily impacted during the ransomware boom are the most prepared for this wave after investing time and money in fighting back.”

Charles Henderson, Global Managing Partner, Head of IBM Security X-Force

On hackers-for-hire:

As operators offer new tools that dramatically lower the barrier of entry for less experienced and less technical cyber criminals, the cyber crime-as-a-service ecosystem may balloon in the year ahead. We expect the biggest rise to be across Europe, considering geopolitical tensions and a challenging winter ahead.

John Dwyer, Head of Research, IBM Security X-Force

On Zero Trust:

Security teams will accelerate zero trust adoption plans in 2023 [but] make several missteps along the way. Without a deep understanding of trust relationships, implementations will fail.

Charles Henderson, Global Managing Partner, Head of IBM Security X-Force

On social engineers eyeing ICS Systems:

ICS/SCADA (industrial control systems (ICS) and supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA)) systems are essential to the daily operations of industrial manufacturers. Due to their importance, these systems are a top target for [social engineering] attackers. We anticipate social engineering to accelerate.

Stephanie Carruthers, Chief People Hacker, IBM Security X-Force Red

On skirting new security controls:

We expect to see cyber criminals set their sights more specifically on MFA and EDR technologies. With some attackers having succeeded at circumventing non-phishing-resistant MFA this past year… this technology will grow as a top target next year. Similarly, we expect to see a massive spike in the number of EDR evasion tools for sale on the dark web.

John Dwyer, Head of Research, IBM Security X-Force

On the cyber skills gap:

Hiring the talent required to secure the cloud will be a challenge for security leaders in 2023. One of the greatest hurdles stems from the large number of people needed in very niche, specialized roles. The solution to the skills gap lies in cybersecurity generalists. Organizations will recruit more generalists with successful track records, and build internal teams by reskilling specialists back to generalists.

John Hendley, Head of Strategy, IBM Security X-Force

On automation:

With data being more dispersed than ever the concept of protecting the “moat” is no longer a successful strategy. We now have too much surface area to cover. We’ll see more automated protection of the “moat,” so defenders can focus more time on detecting adversaries earlier and responding more effectively.

Evan Anderson, Principal Technologist, Randori (an IBM company)

On credential stealing.

Cyber criminals will continue to leverage large caches of leaked/stolen credentials to devastating effect. Next year, we’ll see attacks against legacy second-factor authentication, such as SMS, continue as will attacks against push-based multi-factor authentication solutions. Phishing and other attacks designed to capture authentication tokens will also rise.

Dustin Heywood, Chief Architect, IBM Security X-Force

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