The way InfoSec students and professionals are learning is changing as quickly as cyberthreats and the technologies they are developing to hunt them.
The latest data collected from Kaspersky Expert Training courses reveals – for the second year in row – that reverse engineering remains the most on-demand skill IT security professionals want to advance.
From students who are beginners in malware analysis, to advanced practitioners with a desire to enhance this skill further by analysing real malicious codes, reverse engineering still sits brightly on top of the educational pyramid. Students have also shown high interest in the courses related to incident response and Yara rules.
Apart from the growing interest in malware analysis, the Kaspersky team observed some more trends in online-education for InfoSec professionals in 2023: Study, learn more, learn forever
The InfoSec sphere is dynamically evolving so practitioners can no longer be educated just once and remain sought-after specialists without additional learning and practice. If InfoSec practitioners do not upgrade their knowledge and skills periodically, they can fall out of the market. Age is no longer an indication of interest – courses are followed at 18, 30 or 50 years old. Nor is time – a few hours, days or months can be devoted to training.
Statistics from Kaspersky Expert Training courses, shows the desire to learn manifests itself at any age and at any scale. One student from this platform has spent there more than 130 days continuously in 2023 – almost one third of a year! The first 70 days he has devoted to the malware analysis, the second 60 days – to reverse engineering.
The ability to learn any time, any place, anywhere – asynchronous learning – is now the most popular format with students who are not tied to a fixed course schedule and independently choose the conditions under which they will learn the topic: time, location, pace, order of studying materials, etc.
Attracting professionals from the information security sector, this learning style allows them to exchange experience with colleagues from other countries at any time, and receive the latest information about current cyber threats, useful tools and malicious techniques used by cybercriminals.
According to Kaspersky statistics, students spent an average of 560 minutes in each training program in 2023, with the most engaging expert courses devoted to advanced malware analysis techniques and Yara rules. In total, trainees spent more than 4,000 minutes on these courses.
No more long videos
Modern online courses emphasise short modules, breaking up long video courses into chunks to help students memorise large blocks of information sequentially. Typically, each lesson explains something specific and builds one skill.
The goal is to repeat small pieces of complex information to gradually build a greater understanding of the studied topic. Kaspersky expert trainings are usually divided into 30-40 small videos to facilitate the learning process and enhance its efficiency.
Theory is not enough
For students today, the greatest payback is not just theoretical learning, but an opportunity to enhance practical skills, analyse real cases with qualified teachers and develop their own projects. The biggest advantage for InfoSec trainees is if the education provider helps students to check their level of understanding and analyse real samples.
According to Kaspersky’s statistics, each student has spent an average of 20 hours in the Virtual Lab, a secure online environment created specifically to enhance practical skills. The most practically oriented courses were related to malware analysis and reverse engineering.
Self-education remains the trend
Self-learning can be a part of traditional education, or take the form of informal learning – either completely independent or relying on the advisory support of a trainer – giving each individual maximum opportunity to realise their potential, regardless of place, time and other circumstances.
The Kaspersky team regularly observe that a great number of students ask for additional materials that they can use to study on their own and extend their knowledge.
If you are interested in information security and would like to enhance your hard skills in malware analysis, incident response, product security assessment and other fields, enroll in a Kaspersky Expert Training and enjoy this interesting journey with Kaspersky experts.
Experts Urge Banks to Fortify Against Impending Threats Surge in 2024
Financial institutions and organisations should fortify their defenses in 2024, as threats will surge driven by AI and heightened automation according to Kaspersky experts.
In its crimeware report and financial predictions for 2024, the cybersecurity company anticipates an increase in cyberattacks, exploitation of direct payment systems, the resurgence of Brazilian banking trojans, and a rise in open-source backdoored packages.
The report also includes a comprehensive review of the accuracy of last year’s predictions, emphasising trends like the rise in Web3 threats and increased demand for malware loaders. Adapting to the evolving landscape, 2024 demands proactive cybersecurity strategies, sector collaboration, and innovative defenses.
Last year, Kaspersky experts accurately predicted the rise in Web3 threats, increased demand for malware loaders, and the shift of ransomware groups towards destructive activities. Notably, the foresight on “Red Team” frameworks and a Bitcoin payment shift remained unfulfilled.
Looking ahead, 2024 predicts an AI-driven surge in cyberattacks that mimic legitimate communication channels, leading to a proliferation of lower-quality campaigns.
Moreover, the Kaspersky experts expect cybercriminals to capitalise on the popularity of direct payment systems, resulting in the emergence of clipboard malware and increased exploitation of mobile banking Trojans. Families like Grandoreiro have already expanded abroad, targeting over 900 banks in 40 countries.
Another concerning trend in 2024 could be the rise in open-source backdoored packages. Cybercriminals will exploit the vulnerabilities in widely used open-source software, compromising security and potentially leading to data breaches and financial losses.
And the experts forecast affiliate groups in the cybercriminal ecosystem will exhibit a more fluid structure in the coming year, with members frequently switching between or working for multiple groups simultaneously.
This adaptability will make it more challenging for law enforcement to track them and combat cybercrime effectively.
Other important predictions include:
- Global adoption of Automated Transfer Systems (ATS). The global adoption of mobile ATS will extend beyond Brazilian borders, allowing cybercriminals worldwide to exploit these systems for financial gain.
- Decrease in zero-days, increase in one-day exploits. Crimeware actors will shift to more reliable one-day exploits due to the scarcity of zero-days, aiming for increased accessibility.
- Exploitation of misconfigured devices and service. An increase in the exploitation of misconfigured devices and services, providing cybercriminals with unauthorised access for launching attacks.
“In the ever-evolving landscape of financial cybersecurity in 2024, we anticipate a surge in threats, heightened automation, and the unwavering persistence of cybercriminals. To stay ahead, financial institutions and organisations must proactively adapt their cybersecurity strategies, fortifying defenses to safeguard assets and sensitive data.
“The key to success lies in fostering collaboration between the public and private sectors, forging a united front against the escalating risks that define the financial cybersecurity terrain in the year ahead,” says Marc Rivero, lead security researcher at GReAT, Kaspersky.
NITDA Tips AI to Power Future Economy
National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), has identified artificial intelligence (AI) as a tool that can power the economy in the near future.
Yau Garba, national director, National Centre for Artificial Intelligence and Robotics (NCAIR), a subsidiary of NITDA, stated this at the NITDA-NYSC Emerging Technology for All programmes, in Abuja.
Garba said the programme was aimed at realizing the NITDA Strategic Roadmap and Action Plan (SRAP) 2021–2024 goal by preparing and positioning Corps Members to take advantage of opportunities presented by emerging technologies.
He explained that the project was created to move Nigeria’s Corp members into the digital era, with an emphasis on cutting-edge technology such as Robotics, Drones, AI, IoT, and Blockchain.
Garba, represented by Yusuf Abubakar, head, Collaboration and Funding Unit, NCAIR, said the tool (AI) has the potential to automate specific tasks and jobs, which is likely to replace humans in some areas.
According to him, AI is best suited for handling repetitive, data-driven tasks and making data-driven decisions, hence the NITDA-NYSC partnership’s goal of positioning Nigeria as a global talent factory.
He emphasised the agency’s role in scaling up awareness and adoption of emerging technologies in Nigeria.
Blessing Daniel, head, Administration and Corporate Advocacy Unit of NCAIR, highlighted different programmes intended to scale awareness and adoption of emerging technologies.
According to her, NCAIR plans to develop a specialised Community Development Service (CDS) group to improve post-service employability by incorporating emerging technology into Skill Acquisition and Entrepreneurship Development (SAED) and encouraging a comprehensive learning experience.
She said the aim was to empower the corps members with the necessary skills to extend their knowledge in place of primary assignments.
Africa: 2023 Cyberthreats Landscape, Next Year Predictions
By Yusuph Kileo
In recent years, of African countries are working hard to adopt 2030 African digital transformation agenda. Finance, education, agriculture, government, security, and manufacturing, are actively adopting digital technologies and transitioning their operations to online platforms.
As we advance in technology throughout the continent, nations need to remember, cybersecurity and personal data protection are fundamental principles in the implementation of the digital transformation project in order to minimise the challenges that come along with the technology.
The year 2023 was filled with countless cyberattacks across many countries — Some of these attacks targeted critical infrastructure, financial institutions, governments and other companies.
As African countries are now pushing for digital transformation and experiencing rapid economic development, cybersecurity remains a pressing concern for businesses across Africa.
Unfortunately, some of the African countries indicate inadequate security measures to fight off cybercrime, leaving them highly susceptible to cyberattacks — They have weak prevention mechanisms to combat cyber threats and poor intrusion detection systems, thereby placing sensitive transactions at significant risk.
There is an increase in the volume and sophistication of cyberattacks in financial institutions.
According to the 2023 Africa Financial Industry Barometer, 97% of surveyed leaders of financial institutions in Africa rank cybercrime and regulatory constraints on cybersecurity as the leading threat to the financial services industry alongside worsening economic conditions.
These massive cyberattacks in the region threatens the security of the growing economy and critical infrastructure.
MTN Nigeria, lost $53 million from its mobile money service which forces them to sue several banks in the Nigeria, financial institutions and e-citizen portal where halted by distributed denial of service attack in Kenya, South Africa there is an increase in backdoor and spyware attacks with an alarming 106,000 recorded attempts.
There are many similar cybersecurity incidents in other African countries and there is a need of urgent action to strengthen protection measures.
Failure to counter cyberthreats can have serious consequences for individuals, businesses and the socio-economic development of the continent.
Africa is not alone in this, In September alone other part of the world experience massive cyberattacks — To mention few notable cyberattacks; On September 6, the travel booking company Sabre experienced a serious ransomware attack where by 1.3 terabytes of data were stolen by Dunghill and just few days letter, on September 11th another ransomware attack on save the children lead to the loss of 6.8 terabyte of data and entertainment company MGM Resorts also suffered a cyberattack which was made public on X saying that the security incident severely impacted its business operations.
The following day on September 12, Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency exchange platform, CoinEx, saw the loss of US$70 million in cryptocurrency following a cyberattack launched against it.
In 2023, the most common cyberthreats in Africa includes Insider threats, Social Engineering, Software update supply chain attacks, Phishing attacks, Mobile malware, online shopping fraud, Ransomware, Man-in-the-middle (MitM) attack, Cryptojacking attacks, IoT botnet DDoS attacks and Malware attacks among others.
According to the year 2023 Positive technology report, the most targeted organizations with cyberattacks were those in the financial sector (18%), followed by telecommunications companies (13%), government agencies (12%), and organizations from the trade (12%) and industrial (10%) sectors.
The impact brought by these growing cyberattacks includes, Loss of customer/business, Loss of organisation critical data, Threat to organisation/National Security, Damage of goodwill and Reputation, Loss of Revenue — Economic Losses, Temporary or permanent closure, Lawsuits and arbitrations, Danger of terrorism, Time wastage and System down time — reduce productivity.
2024 cyberthreats prediction
Many report shows Africa being the most targeted region with cyberattacks, the year 2024 new techniques of cyberattacks will likely emerge, such as the increase in AI usage, hacktivism and targeting of smart home tech.
New botnets and rootkits will also likely appear, and hacker-for-hire services might increase, as will supply chain attacks, which might be provided as a service on cybercriminals’ underground forums.
According to Kaspersky, Advanced Persistent Threats (APT) is expected to expand surveillance efforts to include more smart home technology devices, such as smart home cameras and connected car systems.
This is particularly interesting for attackers because those devices are often uncontrolled, not updated or patched and subject to misconfigurations. This is also a concern because more people work from home nowadays, and their companies could be targeted via weak points in the home worker devices.
More hacktivism is expected affect many parts of Africa. Hacktivists will run Distributed Denial of Service attacks, increasingly use tools for Deepfakes and impersonation/disinformation. In addition, destructive and disruptive operations can be done. T
he use of wipers in several current political conflicts or the disruption of power in Ukraine are good examples of both types of operations.
Cybercriminals are also expected to develop new methods for automating cyberespionage. One method could be to automate the collection of information related to victims in every aspect of their online presence: social media, websites and more, as long as it relates to the victims’ identity.
State-sponsored cyberattack numbers also have the potential to surge, amid increasing geopolitical tensions. These attacks will likely threaten data theft or encryption, IT infrastructure destruction, long-term espionage, and cyber-sabotage.
The generative AI tools usage will increase, this will facilitate the mass production of spear phishing email content, which is often used as the initial vector of infection when targeting organizations. The messages written by the tools are more persuasive and well-written compared to the ones written by cybercriminals. It might also mimic the writing style of specific individuals.
The widespread use of technology, combined with insufficient cybersecurity measures, lack of right skillset, inadequate legislation in the field of information security, and a low level of public awareness concerning information security, creates favorable conditions for cybercriminals. Moreover, many African countries are facing economic constraints, making it difficult to allocate sufficient funds for cybersecurity.
African governments must develop, implement and regularly update national cybersecurity policies and strategies, involving a wide range of stakeholders in the process.
Establishing a dedicated national institution (Cybersecurity authority) to coordinate cybersecurity activities, respond to cyber incident, monitor threats and help organizations recover from major cyberattacks should be a top priority for governments.
Governments should work on creating and implementing legislation for the protection of personal data. This legislation should combat cybercrime, guarantee the protection of personal data, and maintain the digital security of citizens and organizations.
Regular cybersecurity awareness should be conducted. People should be educated on potential privacy risks when working in virtual environments.
Governments should identify critical information infrastructure, disruption of which could cause non-tolerable events at the level of industries and countries.
Collaboration between governments and industry peers is also recommended to enhance collective defense against cyberattacks and exchange best practices and thoughts.
Organisations should implement best practices in safeguarding personal and corporate data.
Organizations should have an up to date incident response plan that will help in case of cyberattack. The plan should contain steps to take, as well as a list of people and services to reach in case of emergency. This plan should be regularly tested by conducting attack simulations.
Network segmentation might limit an attacker’s exploration of compromised networks. Critical systems in particular should be totally isolated from the rest of the corporate network.
Establishing continuous vulnerability assessment and triage as a basement for effective vulnerability management process
Implementing strict access controls is highly recommended. The principle of least privilege should always be in use for any resource. Multifactor authentication should be deployed wherever possible.
Mr Yusuph Kileo is an award-winning Cyber security and Digital Forensics Expert
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