As the world continues its digital transformation, governments find themselves taking on roles they have never taken on before. Last month, The White House released a historic, “first-of-its-kind” report on the status of U.S. cybersecurity posture: The 2024 Report on the Cybersecurity Posture of the United States

What Are the Top Threat Trends? 

The top five threat trends, as identified in The White House’s 2023 Cybersecurity Strategy, formed the basis of cybersecurity improvement efforts across the past twelve months. Those trends are as follows: 

  1. Evolving Risks to Critical Infrastructure 
    As noted in the report, the United States currently faces “unacceptable cyber risks” to its critical infrastructure. The People’s Republic of China (PRC) was called out as a specific threat. Multiple times, nation-state actors from the PRC have targeted U.S. and allied entities solely for their strategic value to critical infrastructure stability.  

  1. Ransomware 
    Since 2022, ransomware reports to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) have risen by 22% and the average cost of ransomware incidents has skyrocketed by 74%. These attacks threaten not only economic prosperity but national security and public safety, according to the report. “Double” and “triple” extortion tactics have added to the crime’s success, as has criminal specialization; multiple ransomware actors working together to develop and distribute the ransomware attacks, as well as divide the payout.  

  1. Supply Chain Exploitation 
    A common reliance on third-party service providers, along with increasingly complex and interconnected supply chains, makes supply chain exploitation not only easier than ever but more difficult to track. The report mentions several high-profile incidents last year where supply chain attacks stole valuable credentials and impacted thousands of American citizens, “including critical infrastructure owners and operators.” 

  1. Commercial Spyware  
    A recent boom in unregulated and illegal commercial spyware technologies has contributed to the increased targeting of human rights defenders, journalists, activists, and government officials. Now, “world-class capabilities” are offered for a price to anyone willing to pay, often including authoritarian regimes that use those capabilities to limit freedom and abuse human rights.  

  1. Artificial Intelligence 
    One of “the most powerful technologies of our time,” as stated in the report, artificial intelligence (AI) will present a few significant advantages to U.S. cybersecurity defenders. Namely, discovering anomalous and harmful network traffic, coordinating complex security networks, and force-multiplying a resource-stretched cybersecurity workforce. It can also be used harmfully to create powerful phishing campaigns or power surveillance and censorship technologies, and more regulation is demanded. 

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