The Rapidly Evolving State of Cybersecurity: Highlights from Black Hat 2023

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The cybersecurity landscape is constantly evolving, with threats and solutions emerging at a breakneck pace. A spotlight event in this ever-changing arena is the annual Black Hat conference. The 2023 edition, held as always at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, brought together the brightest minds in the industry to discuss the latest trends, threats, and strategies in cyber security.

Noetic Cyber was proud to be a sponsor in the Start-Up City area of the show floor for the second year, along with supporting surrounding events such as the CISO Warrior CISO Leadership Summit. Throughout the week, we observed several highlights and trends at Black Hat 2023 that we’ve recapped below.

Riding the AI Wave: A Double-Edged Sword

The conference underscored the transformative potential of artificial intelligence (AI) tools in both fortifying and challenging cybersecurity defenses. AI’s ability to scale threats, mimic human interaction, and drive disinformation campaigns presents a new frontier in cyber warfare. However, AI also offers potential solutions, with the launch of the AI Cyber Challenge by the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) as a notable example.

One major shift in the threat landscape observed at the conference was the predominant use of identity-based attacks. CrowdStrike’s Threat Hunting Report revealed that 80% of breaches now involve the use of compromised identities, marking a significant departure from previous years. This trend is a testament to the increased sophistication of threat actors, who are leveraging advancements in technology, including AI, to refine their attack methods.

The conference also highlighted the growing threat that AI poses in the realm of disinformation. AI-powered digital twins, or online personas, can mimic human conversation and spread false information, influencing public opinion on a massive scale. This misuse of AI underscores the need for effective cybersecurity measures to combat these sophisticated threats.

Vulnerabilities are multiplying rapidly, but so is innovation to combat it.

The number of exploitable vulnerabilities across all industries and technology types (both closed and open source) have skyrocketed in the last few years. For that reason, we saw many announcements and demonstrations on the show floor of new approaches to managing and remediating vulnerabilities across different use cases. One of these was from our partner SentinelOne, announcing their new Singularity® Ranger Insights product, which provides context on exploitability, application risk and more.

Noetic also announced new support for SentinelOne’s Application Risk capability which leverages the SentinelOne agent to scan the endpoint for third-party applications and list them in the inventory. The agent then maps the inventory with vulnerability data from NIST NVD regularly, associating it with relevant applications and endpoints.

The Noetic platform was built to specifically integrate the findings and insights from different sources into the hands of the security team, providing them as key critical context to their cyber asset inventory, to help them to prioritize vulnerabilities based on exploitability and risk of exposure as well as severity.

We also saw vulnerability management feature heavily in this year’s Black Hat Startup Spotlight competition. Three of the four finalists had technology that touched on vulnerability prioritization and the winner, Mobb, is focused on automating vulnerability remediation with AI guiding the process.

Critical Infrastructure: A Ticking Time Bomb

The potential for a significant breach impacting critical infrastructure was a recurring theme at the conference. High-profile incidents like the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack have highlighted the vulnerabilities in our critical infrastructure and the urgent need for robust cyber asset management solutions.  Several of these were discussed in detail at Black Hat, including the recent TETRA Zero-Day vulnerability focused on their communications protocol that powers industrial control systems globally.

At Noetic Cyber, we understand the importance of securing critical infrastructure and work with several leading energy and utility companies across the globe to ensure they have comprehensive visibility into their IT environment, helping them to identify vulnerabilities, manage risks, and protect critical infrastructure from potential threats. For a closer view of how Noetic works with Gamma Telecom, take a look at this report.

Final Thoughts

The Black Hat 2023 conference offered a glimpse into the dynamic and rapidly evolving world of cybersecurity. From the rise of AI-driven threats to the critical need for managing vulnerabilities and securing critical infrastructure, the conference underscored the importance of adopting robust and innovative cybersecurity strategies and solutions.

The Noetic Cyber team is committed to addressing these challenges head-on. For a closer look at our award-winning platform, join our monthly demonstration webinar.