2023 Cyber Year in Review & Anticipated Trends for 2024

January 9, 2024

As 2024 begins, it’s the perfect time to take stock of the state of cybersecurity in Canada. The past year was a rollercoaster ride filled with both challenges and opportunities. To help break it down, we’re delighted to share the following insights from iON’s Chief Technology Officer, Alon Zvi Goldberg.


Highlights in Cybersecurity for 2023

  1. Data Privacy Regulations Strengthened: Data privacy regulations were bolstered in various regions around the world. Stricter enforcement of data protection laws, like Canada’s Bill C-26, which provides a comprehensive regulatory framework to protect cyber systems that underpin Canada’s critical infrastructure through risk mitigation and reporting, and to foster collaboration between government entities and operators through information sharing. In addition, there is a growing focus on Incident Response as there is a realization that incidents will happen, and Enterprises are feeling underprepared. We saw a large uptick in customers requesting IR planning and Tabletop Exercises (TTX).
  2. AI and Machine Learning in Cybersecurity: Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning were increasingly integrated into cybersecurity strategies. These technologies allowed organizations to analyze massive datasets in real-time and identify anomalies, resulting in quicker threat detection and response. This past year we also saw the conversation around data privacy advance to consider new risks posed by generative AI, and considerations around 4th party risk whereas most vendor agreements weren’t written with generative AI in mind.
  3. Stronger Emphasis on Zero Trust Security: Zero Trust security gained significant traction in 2023. Organizations, recognizing the evolving threat landscape, doubled down on adopting a “never trust, always verify” approach, which meant continuously verifying the trustworthiness of devices, users, and applications before granting access. A reminder that Zero Trust is a journey rather than a product, and the shift last year has largely been from traditional network segmentation to Identity being the new perimeter.
  4. Rapid Response to Zero-Day Vulnerabilities: The response time to zero-day vulnerabilities significantly decreased in 2023. Organizations and security researchers worked together to quickly patch vulnerabilities, minimizing the window of opportunity for cybercriminals. We rapidly saw the adoption of SASE and SD-WAN to replace traditional perimeter and VPN security, as only the vendors themselves can patch their hosted infrastructure fast enough to keep pace with rising zero-day threats.
  5. Cyber Insurance: With ransomware continuing to be a primary attack vector, cyber insurance has become more expensive and less used by organizations. This lead to a resurgence in focus on backup technologies.


Lowlights in Cybersecurity for 2023

  1. Ransomware Continued to Surge: Ransomware attacks remained a significant concern throughout 2023. Cybercriminals targeted critical infrastructure, Provincial Government, municipalities, and businesses, causing disruptions and financial losses. It’s fair to describe 2023 as “The Year of the Breach”.
  2. OT Security: As a result of heightened political tensions between Canada-China and Canada-Russia, there have been a variety of major incidents across critical infrastructure in Canada, which lead to a major focus on SCADA/ICS security projects and initiatives. We are expecting the OT security market to grow exponentially in the coming years, but many industries are still lagging in their planning, compliance and controls.
  3. Supply Chain Security: Supply chain attacks remained a weak point in cybersecurity. High-profile incidents demonstrated the vulnerability of the supply chain, as attackers exploited weaknesses in the software and hardware supply chain. There was an increasing focus on requiring partners and suppliers to demonstrate that they have strong security practices in place through SOC 2, ISO, or other certifications. By the same token, Enterprises struggled to find a scalable way to certify and validate all their suppliers and partners.
  4. AI-Enhanced Cyberattacks: While AI was a boon for cybersecurity, it also became a tool for malicious actors. Deepfakes, AI-generated spear-phishing attacks, and AI-enhanced malware were on the rise, presenting new challenges. With the upcoming elections down in the States, AI continues to play a huge role both for modeling and faking. We also saw the emergence of AI impersonation scams. Having a “secret passphrase” or something similar to use with your loved ones and key financial contacts has become vital to make sure that you are in fact talking to who you think you are.
  5. Crisis of Trust: High-profile data breaches, cybersecurity vendor breaches, and privacy scandals eroded trust in digital systems. Consumers and organizations alike became more skeptical, necessitating efforts to rebuild trust and promote transparency.


Cybersecurity Trends Leading into 2024

There are several key trends poised to shape the cybersecurity landscape this coming year:

  1. AI-Driven Threat Defense: AI will continue to play a pivotal role in identifying and mitigating cyber threats. Organizations will invest in AI-driven security solutions and automated Security Operations capabilities such as SOAR technologies to stay ahead of evolving threats.
  2. Authentication: Many more passwordless attacks are happening – it is all about session/token stealing rather than passwords. At the same time, expect to see the rapid adoption of Passkey authentication, allowing users to sign into websites and applications with a biometric sensor (such as fingerprint or facial recognition), PIN, or pattern, freeing them from having to remember and manage passwords.
  3. Regulatory Compliance and Privacy: The focus on data privacy and protection will remain strong, with organizations emphasizing compliance with evolving data protection regulations and securing consumer data. Following major breaches in Canada, we can expect to see further Federal Government regulation on critical sectors of the economy.
  4. Quantum Computing Preparedness: Organizations and Governments will continue to research quantum-safe cryptography and strategies to prepare for the eventual arrival of quantum computing threats.
  5. Public-Private Collaboration: Public-private partnerships will expand further, enhancing threat intelligence sharing, collaborative responses to cyber incidents, and the development of industry-wide security standards.
  6. Cybersecurity Workforce Development: The shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals will continue to be addressed through education and workforce development initiatives to bolster the industry’s resilience, however skilled practitioners with applied experience will continue to be difficult to source. Those who can’t automate will fall behind. This will require different skillsets for cybersecurity in the future.


In closing, 2023 was a year of significant progress and notable challenges in the world of cybersecurity. The trends that will define 2024 reflect our continued commitment to improving our defences and staying ahead of emerging cyber threats.