January 2024 Security Update: Secure International Elections

Cybersecurity news for January includes warnings about attacks targeting elections, greater phishing sophistication from generative AI, and zero-day attacks on iOS.

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Elections Will Bring Cybersecurity into the Limelight

Jon France, CISO of ISC2, is looking for cybersecurity to get attention on the international political scene this year.

“The conflicts we’ve seen throughout 2023 have played a part in this, as cyberwarfare has taken a front seat in both Eastern Europe and the Middle East. The cyber community has known for decades that bits and bytes don’t obey borders, and it seems world leaders are seeing this message loud and clear,” he says. “This will become evident as we head into election season. The U.S. and the UK will both be heading to the polls in 2024, as will the European Union Parliament, and I suspect we’ll see cybersecurity being more of a prominent talking point for any candidate who wants to get into office. An increased spotlight on the importance of cybersecurity is undoubtedly needed, so the impending elections could be beneficial from an awareness perspective.”

Alexander Garcia-Tobar, CEO and Co-Founder of Valimail, looks for election activities to become cyberattack targets. “2024 brings a national election, which will bring a heightened risk of targeted information attacks, especially given explicit warnings from foreign state actors about their intentions to disrupt or influence the electoral process through information warfare. With email and social networks as primary attack vectors, there will be an increased need to know the authenticity of the sender or originator of the communication.”

Action Items:

If you provide solutions to organizations involved in political campaigns or election processes, the Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) suggests reviewing the following resources in addition to protecting against distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks:

AI Enhances Sophistication and Pervasiveness of Cyberthreats

Seth Blank, Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of Valimail, predicts a significant rise in the sophistication of cyber threats due to the advancement and widespread use of AI and generative AI.

“This will lead to an increase in the challenges in determining the authenticity of communications as AI technologies become more capable of imitating real human interactions,” he says. “The potential for more realistic phishing attacks and the spread of disinformation, leveraging AI’s ability to mimic different personas convincingly, will be a part of this. “

“It’s important to underscore that AI can be used not only for beneficial purposes but also maliciously, making it increasingly difficult to discern genuine communications from fraudulent ones,” Blank says.

Action Items

Blank suggests taking the following action:

  • Evaluate current email protection for its ability to defend against phishing attacks with generative AI.
  • Use authentication as the first line of defense against sophisticated attacks. This approach requires more robust authentication mechanisms that keep pace with evolving threats.
  • As email becomes more secure, expand focus to SMS, phone, and Internet of Things (IoT) communications. Always identify the weakest points in the security landscape and the risks they represent.

Global Attack Attempts More than Doubled in 2023

Research for Armis’ report, The Anatomy of Cybersecurity: A Dissection of 2023’s Attack Landscape, revealed that global cyberattack attempts rose 104 percent in 2023. Some industries experienced even more attempts; there was more than a 200 percent increase in the utility sector and a 165 percent increase in manufacturing.

Other significant findings in the report include:

  • Older Windows server versions, 2012 and earlier, are 77 percent more likely to experience an attack than newer versions.
  • The education sector has a 41 percent higher percentage of servers with unpatched weaponized common vulnerabilities and exposures (CVEs) compared to an overall average of 10 percent.
  • Wearable devices have the highest percentage of unpatched CVEs (93 percent).
  • One-third of all devices are still not patched for the Log4Shell
  • Regardless of CVE status, patch rates still have much room for improvement: 62 percent for non-weaponized CVEs and 61 percent for weaponized.
  • For more information, review the full report.

Action Items:

In his blog, Armis CISO Curtis Simpson suggests that CISOs prioritize the following in 2024:

  • Segmenting legacy technology
  • Prioritize exposures of the greatest significance
  • Leverage AI to defend and manage the attack surface

Apple Warns of WebKit Zero-Day Vulnerabilities

Security Week reports that Apple is releasing iOS 17.3 and macOS Sonoma 14.3 versions to fix vulnerabilities that attackers can use for code execution, denial of service, and data exposure attacks. Some of the vulnerabilities have been exploited in zero-day attacks.

Actions Items:

Update the operating systems to fix WebKit vulnerabilities as well as issues with Apple Neural Engine, CoreCrypto, Mail Search, Reset Services, Shortcuts, and Time Zone.

 

For more security updates and insights, visit DevPro Journal’s Security resources page.

Mike Monocello

The former owner of a software development company and having more than a decade of experience writing for B2B IT solution providers, Mike is co-founder of DevPro Journal.


The former owner of a software development company and having more than a decade of experience writing for B2B IT solution providers, Mike is co-founder of DevPro Journal.