Ransomware rampage, cosmopolitan hacktivism and beyond


Woburn, Massachusetts – January 31, 2024 — Kaspersky today publishes its Industrial Control Systems Cyber ​​Emergency Response Team (ICS CERT) forecast for 2024, outlining the key cybersecurity challenges that industrial enterprises will face in the coming year. The predictions highlight the persistence of ransomware threats, the rise of cosmopolitan hacktivism, a perspective on the state of “offensive cybersecurity,” and transformative changes in threats to logistics and transportation.

Looking back to 2023, Kaspersky predicted that the industrial cybersecurity landscape will continue to evolve, with several key trends emerging. The search for efficiency in IIoT and SmartXXX systems has fueled an expanded attack surface, while soaring energy carrier prices have led to rising hardware costs, prompting a strategic shift to cloud services. Increasing government involvement in industrial processes has also introduced new risks, including concerns about data leakage due to underqualified employees and insufficient practices for responsible disclosure.

This retrospective analysis lays the foundation for understanding the cybersecurity landscape that industrial enterprises will face in 2024, such as:

Ransomware that targets high-value entities

Ransomware is expected to continue to be a major concern for industrial enterprises in 2024. Large organisations, one-stop product providers and major logistics companies are facing ever-increasing risks, with potentially serious economic and social consequences. Cybercriminals are expected to target entities capable of paying large ransoms, causing disruptions in production and delivery.

Cosmopolitical protest hacktivism

Geopolitically motivated hacktivism is expected to intensify, presenting more destructive consequences. In addition to country-specific protest movements, the rise of cosmopolitan hacktivism is expected, driven by socio-cultural and macroeconomic agendas such as eco-hacktivism. This diversification of motivations can contribute to a more complex and challenging threat landscape.

More subtle threats and detection challenges.

The use of “offensive cybersecurity” to gather intelligence on cyber threats is expected to have controversial consequences. While it can improve enterprise security by providing early signs of potential compromises, the thin line between the gray area and the gray areas may be crossed. Profit-driven cyber businesses, armed with commercial and open source tools, may operate more discreetly, making detection and investigation difficult.

Changes in logistics and transportation threats related to the challenges of automation and digitalization

The rapid automation and digitalisation of logistics and transport are introducing new challenges, intertwining cyber and traditional crime. This includes vehicle and cargo theft, maritime piracy and smuggling. Untargeted cyber attacks can lead to physical consequences, especially on rivers, seas, trucks and special vehicles.

“Industrial cybersecurity is continually undergoing significant changes, both with new types of attacks and more sophisticated versions of old ones,” said Evgeny Goncharov, head of Kaspersky ICS CERT.“Ransomware attacks are still a big problem, and hackers are getting better at targeting large, profitable companies with more advanced methods. Hacktivists motivated by social issues are also becoming more active, adding another layer of complexity to threats. The transportation and logistics sector is particularly vulnerable to these changes because its systems are becoming increasingly digital. This combination of cyber and traditional crime poses a serious threat to global supply chains. To protect ourselves, we must prioritize cybersecurity, avoid paying ransoms, and continue to improve our defenses.”

Read the full list of ICS forecasts for 2024 at ICSCERT website.

The ICS forecasts are part of Kaspersky’s Vertical Threat Predictions for 2024, one of the segments of the Kaspersky Security Bulletin, an annual series of forecasts and analytical reports on key changes in the world of cybersecurity.

About Kaspersky

Kaspersky is a global cybersecurity and digital privacy company founded in 1997. Kaspersky’s deep threat intelligence and security expertise continually translates into innovative solutions and services to protect businesses, critical infrastructure, governments and consumers everywhere the world. The company’s comprehensive security portfolio includes industry-leading endpoint protection, specialized security products and services, as well as Cyber ​​Immune solutions to combat sophisticated and evolving digital threats. Over 400 million users are protected by Kaspersky technologies and we help over 220,000 business customers protect what matters most to them. Find out more about www.kaspersky.com.

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