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<p>Cybersecurity has a way of surprising us with the unexpected so I wouldn’t be surprised to see a completely new kind of security threat emerge in 2023. But as the ongoing cat-and-mouse game between attackers and defenders unfolds, certain scenarios are already coming into view.</p> <p><strong>Why Threat Actors Will Love Pink Slips</strong></p> <p>Amid growing economic uncertainty, many companies around the globe are tightening their belts and reducing headcount in advance of a possible economic recession. But as organizations brace for the worst, three related security risks now loom:</p> <p>1. External attackers aren’t the only threats companies face. Insider threat incidents are up 44% in the past two years, as costs per incident have climbed more than a third to $15.38 million. But there’s new reason for concern since layoffs create insider threat risks – either in the form of disgruntled employees or among existing employees angry about corporate’s decision to let go of colleagues. That means more potential for theft or sabotage from within. </p> <p>2. Staff reductions have unintended consequences on an organization’s security posture. When gaps in network defenses suddenly appear, the company now has fewer technical experts watching the situation. At the same time, the organization now has less visibility into the security status of its various products and systems. This presents a golden opportunity for professional threat actors searching out the path of least resistance. When they hear about layoff announcements at a particular firm, it doesn’t take very long before attackers start probing for security vulnerabilities.</p> <p>3. Companies regularly get into trouble by failing to set up well-controlled and thorough off-boarding personnel procedures – particularly when it comes to senior or privileged users. Proper processes with verification of completion on user accounts, data, assets, etc. is critical. Also, don’t ignore the consequences of adding roles and responsibilities to remaining employees who may shoulder added responsibilities following a staff layoff. There are risks in maintaining segregation of duties and inadvertently creating ‘super users.’ This could pose an insider threat risk or present targets of opportunity for attackers looking to exploit ‘novices’ in new roles they have taken on.</p> <p><strong>Commodity Malware and Tools Dominate</strong></p> <p>Threat actor groups operate a profitable business selling increasingly complex malware and tools to would-be attackers, a trend that will continue in 2023, making it even harder for forensic investigators to determine the origin of attacks. All of which further underscores the importance of better threat intelligence to understand why certain actors are likely to target specific organizations and what malware and tools they might deploy.</p> <p><strong>Supply Chain Is the Place to Be</strong></p> <p>Cyber attackers stick with what works. So, after the run of big supply chain breaches in the last few years – SolarWinds 2020, Log4Shell 2021 and its variants into 2022 – expect more of the same in the new year. The too-common occurrence of trusted relationship abuse and supply chain attacks is a particular favorite of state-sponsored groups. Look for them to demonstrate patience and remain hidden as they go to great lengths to accomplish their objectives.</p> <p>None of this means that attackers are fated to have the advantage over defenders in 2023. But given their growing sophistication, it’s more important than ever to have fuller awareness of your assets and supply chain vectors. Pay close attention to shared development environments, where you work with 3rd parties and contractors in developing and maintaining your applications. Maintaining oversight over the security and access to these environments is key. Assure development practices and establish adequate segregation of code bases, data, and documentation. It’s hard to sufficiently underscore how important it is to assure the integrity and fidelity of the code base and build procedures.</p>
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