With new and evolving cybersecurity threats emerging almost daily, the risk to businesses is greater than ever. A 2023 study by IBM reports that the average cost of a data breach in Australia is now $4.3 million. While this figure is less than the global average of $4.45 million, the escalation of cybersecurity threats shows no sign of slowing anytime soon.

So, the critical question is, how do you keep your organisation safe in such a hostile cyber environment? The best place to start is by educating yourself on the nature of cybersecurity risks and the options available to help mitigate them.

In this post, we discuss the top five cybersecurity threats to be aware of in 2024. These are the most common threats that we see in our work helping clients mitigate these risks and respond to incidents.

1. Increased Impact from Malicious AI Tools

Artificial Intelligence (AI) poses a significant threat, not just as a tool for innovation but also as a potential weapon in the hands of cybercriminals.

AI can be exploited by cybercriminals to conduct more sophisticated attacks with increased precision and frequency. These AI-driven attacks can bypass traditional cybersecurity measures, making detection and defence more challenging for organisations.

Strategies to Combat Malicious AI Tools:

Developing strategies to counteract malevolent AI tools is important for safeguarding your organisation against complex threats. By remaining proactive and employing security practices, you can diminish the risks and consequences of AI-powered cyber-attacks. Here are helpful strategies to combat these threats:

    • Continuous Monitoring: Implement AI-driven security tools that monitor network activity to detect and respond to anomalies. These tools can detect anomalies and respond promptly to any suspicious behaviour.
    • Advanced Threat Intelligence: Leverage platforms that use AI to predict and identify potential threats before they can cause harm.
    • Regular Security Audits: Conduct frequent cybersecurity risk assessments to identify vulnerabilities and ensure all security protocols are up to date.

Organisations can enhance their protection against the increasing threat of malicious AI by staying proactive and utilising AI defence tools.

2. Phishing

Phishing is one of the most common forms of attack whereby fake emails are sent purporting to be from sources familiar to the target, such as the Commonwealth Bank, Australia Post or Microsoft. The goal of phishing is to trick individuals into granting access to secure systems by either handing over password details or allowing the installation of malware onto their computer. Once the attacker has gained access to company systems, they may explore and plan their next steps undetected.

Protecting Against Phishing

    • Multi-factor Authentication (MFA): Even if an attacker obtains password details, MFA adds a layer of security. Most modern applications support MFA, though it may not be enabled by default.
    • Email Filtering: Effective email filtering can stop many phishing emails before they reach employee inboxes. Advanced filtering is available for major platforms like Microsoft Office 365.
    • User Education: Employee awareness is critical. Educating your workforce on recognising and avoiding phishing attacks is an effective risk mitigation strategy.

3. Business Email Compromise

Business email compromise is a strategy used by attackers to defraud a target company, employed once they have gained access to secure systems via other means. With access to company systems, they will gather information regarding financial processes, payment systems and client relationships. They will monitor email communications to learn who in the organisation has financial authority and the language and methods that they use to communicate.

Once they have the information that they need, attackers will then seek to deceive employees, clients and business partners into making payments to their bank accounts rather than genuine ones. These fraudulent requests for funds can be difficult to identify and lost funds can be challenging to trace and recover. The potential for direct financial loss through business email compromise is significant.

Protecting Against Business Email Compromise

    • Multi-factor Authentication (MFA): MFA effectively defends against many user account attacks.
    • User Education: Employees involved in financial transactions must be vigilant and take all necessary precautions.
    • Verification Processes: Implement secondary verification (e.g., phone calls) for all financial transactions and change of detail requests.

4. Social Engineering

Cybercriminals will often seek to gain the trust of their targets in order to elicit the information that they need to breach secure systems. Any form of social interaction with the malicious intent of gaining access to secure systems can be considered social engineering. A common approach is to create fictitious personas on social media which are then used to establish fake relationships with potential victims and trick them into allowing access to company systems.

Protecting Against Social Engineering

    • User Education: Training employees to identify and respond to social engineering threats is essential.
    • Endpoint Protection: Use advanced endpoint protection software to detect and block malicious software.
    • Multi-factor Authentication (MFA): MFA provides robust defence against user account breaches, even if passwords are compromised.

5. Ransomware

Ransomware is a particular form of malicious software (aka malware) that, once active within a computer system, will encrypt critical data rendering it inaccessible until a ransom is paid. Unfortunately for some business owners, even when a ransom is paid, access to the data is not always restored. Ransomware is responsible for some of the largest and highest profile security incidents in recent times. A ransomware attack can be devastating to any organisation, grinding operations to a halt.

Protecting against Ransomware

All forms of malware including ransomware can be mitigated with strategies such as:

    • Endpoint protection: All computer systems must be protected with advanced endpoint protection software.
    • System updates: Computer systems without up-to-date software and operating systems are a common weakness that attackers can exploit.
    • Isolated backups: Not only should backups be monitoring and tested regularly, but a copy should be stored separately and unattached to the main systems to protect attackers from being able to compromise backups.
    • User education: Human error is common factor in many malware infections. Training employees to recognise a potential malware infection and respond accordingly is critical.

6. Supply Chain Attack

A supply chain attack is a form of cyber-attack where malicious actors target an organisation indirectly through less secure partners in their supply chain, most commonly software vendors. The attackers aim to compromise a particular software application which, once deployed in the target organisation’s network, allows unauthorised access to company systems. Such attacks can have widespread repercussions, as compromising one link in the supply chain can potentially grant access to multiple interconnected organisations.

Although not strictly a supply chain attack, it’s important to highlight the necessity for supply chain cyber-resilience. An attack on your supply chain can be just as disruptive as an attack through your supply chain. Disruptions to key suppliers can cause significant operational downtime and extend vulnerabilities within your organisation.

Protecting against Supply Chain Attack

    • Risk management: Include Supply Chain in risk management plans, including disaster recovery and cybersecurity incidents.
    • Least trust security: Limit supplier access to the minimum required.
    • Vendor security requirements: Incorporate clear vendor security requirements into supply agreements.

Watch our free on-demand webinar now: Managing the Risk of Supply Chain Attack.


Cybersecurity starts with an understanding of the threats that your organisation may face, and the options available to you to mitigate those risks. From there you can prioritise and focus your cybersecurity efforts with confidence.

For help protecting your business, speak with one of our cybersecurity experts today.