Artificial Intelligence (AI)
- AI and Advanced Packaging Technologies: AI’s growth drives demand for chips and memory technologies, pushing factories to increase production capacities in 2.5D and 3D packaging.
- Technology Security Focus: Amid complex international relations, 2024 prioritizes technology security, with heightened emphasis on safeguarding AI, edge computing, and other technologies against cyber threats.
- Quantum Computing Advancements: Quantum technology rapidly evolves, prompting major powers to develop post-quantum cryptography and secure quantum communication networks to maintain global military and economic security.
In a year marked by a proliferation of various technologies, the creative potential and problem-solving capabilities of generative artificial intelligence are poised to unlock hidden efficiencies. Sustainability has transcended the realm of buzzwords, becoming a crucial execution strategy. Quantum computing, once confined to science fiction, is now opening up significant possibilities for the future. Meanwhile, cybersecurity continues to play a pivotal role across industries as nations, industries, businesses, and individuals transform rapidly.
Of course, the diversification and popularization of AI are also expected to drive related demand for chips, memories, and advanced packaging technologies. In 2024, various factories will strive to increase 2.5D packaging production capacity to meet the rising demand for high computing power such as AI. At the same time, the development of 3D packaging technology has also sprouted. Major manufacturers, including TSMC, Samsung, Intel, etc., are expected to develop in the direction of reducing packaging weight, shortening the transmission path between chips, and increasing chip computing speed to meet the needs of related AI and self-driving technology.
However, amid the increasing complexity of international relations, the security of these technologies is gradually being scrutinized. As a result, 2024 may emerge as a year that prioritizes ’technology security.’ Both enterprises and governments are likely to place a heightened emphasis on the security of technology use. We may anticipate the introduction of numerous technologies from tech companies to identify the tech trend in 2024 further.
Artificial Intelligence (AI)
Artificial Intelligence has garnered widespread attention over the past decade. Nevertheless, it still seems to be a new technological trend due to its significant impact on our lifestyles, work, and entertainment is still in the early stages. AI is renowned for its advantages in image and speech recognition, navigation applications, intelligent smartphone personal assistants, and ride-sharing apps. Beyond these applications, AI will further be utilized for analyzing interactions between data to identify potential connections and insights, aiding in predicting the demand for services such as hospitals. The progress of this technique enables authorities to make better decisions regarding resource utilization and detect changes in customer behavior through data analysis. It also offers an almost real-time and enhanced personalized experience and is poised to increase business revenue. As AI spreads its wings across various sectors, it will create new employment opportunities in areas such as business development, programming, testing, support, and maintenance. Popular professions in 2024 include data scientists, content creators, and AI ethics consultants.
However, current artificial intelligence is also being utilized in various malicious activities, with an increasing number of hackers using AI technology for phishing attacks and developing malicious software, amplifying the impact of these attacks. Another example is that large AI models, such as ChatGPT, are employed to create malicious software adept at evading the latest security systems. This type of polymorphic malware, which previously required highly skilled black-hat hackers for creation, is now becoming more widespread. Particularly noteworthy is the subscription-based model, which enables hackers to launch remote phishing attacks easily and could significantly affect overall network security. Using these tools, attackers can automatically construct entire web pages and email chains or write polymorphic malware that excels at evading existing network security capabilities, putting defenses at a disadvantage.
Furthermore, there are concerns about whether artificial intelligence can protect humans. In a simulation training exercise, the U.S. military assigned an AI-equipped drone to destroy enemy anti-aircraft missiles. While AI can identify threats, the decision to attack requires human approval. In the earliest simulations, AI was programmed with the goal of “scoring points by eliminating threats” and “destroying anything that interferes with orders.” However, when human operators did not approve its attack actions, the AI decided to kill the human operator because that person was obstructing its goal. Subsequently, testers modified the logic of the AI, adding a “point deduction” setting to train it not to attack human operators. As a result, the AI began attacking the command tower, severing data communication between human operators and the drone, making it impossible for humans to stop its attack on the anti-aircraft system.
While cloud computing was once a notable emerging technology trend, it has now become mainstream, with key players like AWS (Amazon Web Services), Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform dominating the market. As more businesses transition to cloud solutions, the adoption of cloud computing continues to grow, but it is no longer a novel technology trend. As organizations grapple with increasing volumes of data to process, they have recognized the drawbacks of cloud computing in specific scenarios. Edge computing aims to address some of these issues by bypassing the latency caused by cloud computing and processing data locally instead of transmitting it to data centers. Furthermore, edge computing can handle time-sensitive data in remote locations where connectivity to centralized locations is limited or nonexistent. In these situations, edge computing functions like a miniature data center, providing a solution to process data closer to the source.
“Edge Computing” security-related technologies have gradually gained attention in recent years. There is active discussion on how to protect remote edge devices from physical intrusion attacks and ensure the security of edge devices. For instance, industrial process control systems used in factories cannot tolerate sudden communication issues; even the slightest delay cannot be ignored, not to mention malicious continuous attacks from external sources. If the pressure inside one of the factory’s devices suddenly rises abnormally, the safety valve must be immediately opened to release pressure. However, the control of this valve is remotely managed. Any communication delay could lead to a large-scale industrial safety incident. Therefore, automation engineers worldwide are aggressively working on incorporating various intelligent computing modules or systems into control devices on-site. Simultaneously, data stored in the edge device database can be analyzed and processed. These data serve as parameters for making correct conclusions and handling abnormal occurrences in the future. This process also enhances the performance of the next generation of edge devices.
The focus in 2024 will be to enhance IoT networking security through various means. Significant progress is expected to be made in developing more robust, standardized security protocols for IoT devices. It could include common encryption standards and mandatory security certification for new devices. Another enhancement area could be integrating artificial intelligence and machine learning algorithms into IoT systems. These technologies monitor data patterns to uncover potential vulnerabilities, allowing faster response to threats.
IBM predicts that attackers will enhance their arsenal using generative AI, taking their methods to a new and more lethal stage. IBM warns that the coming year marks the beginning of a new era of deception and identity misuse, with attackers compromising networks through forged and stolen privileged access credentials. The company points out that the global average cost of data breaches in 2023 was $4.45 million, showing a 15% increase over three years. Additionally, 51% of businesses plan to increase security investments due to non-compliance events, covering areas such as incident response, employee training, and threat detection and response tools. Companies that widely employ security AI and automation are expected to save an average of $1.76 million compared to those not extensively using these technologies.
Moreover, due to ongoing geopolitical tensions, significant elections in the United States and the European Union, and the upcoming world-class sporting event (the Paris Olympics), 2024 is anticipated to be a “busy year” for cybercriminals. Hackers are expected to employ AI-designed deception strategies to trick unsuspecting users, consumers, and even public officials. Improved deepfakes, audio fabrications, and AI-generated phishing emails attacking both public and private sectors may become more prevalent. Simultaneously, the effectiveness of traditional ransomware, which has been commonplace in recent years, may gradually diminish as businesses increasingly allocate funds towards strengthening cybersecurity defenses rather than continuing to pay ransoms.
Finally, hacker groups continually utilize new and more powerful tools to strengthen their attack techniques. For instance, the APT34 hacker group, in its latest attack campaign, not only employed behind-the-scenes control (C&C) communication methods but also infiltrated legitimate Simple Mail Transfer Protocol (SMTP) email traffic to evade network boundary security policies. Additionally, Earth Longzhi utilized a new technique called “stack rumbling” to target enterprises in multiple countries, marking the first discovery of this novel Denial of Service (DoS) technique during the attack.
Quantum computers are expected to one day crack mainstream encryption technologies that protect digital communications, a day often referred to as “Q-day.” This event could bring about significant global military and economic security changes, prompting major powers like the United States and China to compete fiercely for an advantage. A parallel war to protect critical data has begun as the race to harness quantum computing continues. The United States and its allies are contemplating a new encryption logic, “post-quantum cryptography,” designed to create codes that even quantum computers would struggle to break. China, on the other hand, is aggressively developing quantum communication networks, with researchers claiming that this technology is theoretically invulnerable to hack.
While China appears to be heavily backed by official funding, some researchers believe that the United States maintains a lead in the overall quantum field due to the innovation of private enterprises, government laboratories, university researchers, and collaborative allies. The U.S. government is also preparing to restrict American investments in China’s quantum capabilities. In August of this year, President Biden signed an executive order directing the Treasury Department to oversee U.S. investments in quantum technology, semiconductors, artificial intelligence, and other areas. The attachment to the executive order designates China, Hong Kong, and Macau as areas of concern, allowing for potential restrictions on U.S. investments in Chinese quantum technology and equipment production.
Website operators have widely adopted Search Engine Optimization (SEO) techniques to enhance their online visibility. However, cyber attackers increasingly exploit these techniques to drive traffic to fraudulent websites significantly, thereby boosting the success rate of their malicious activities. Katie Nickels, a certified SANS instructor, describes SEO poisoning as a dangerous emerging technique. Attackers are now leveraging common online marketing strategies on a large scale to achieve their illicit objectives. In this type of attack, perpetrators use SEO keywords to lure victims into visiting deceptive websites, downloading malicious files, and exploiting vulnerabilities for remote user access. They also apply various tactics to conceal malicious samples for prolonged persistence. SEO poisoning signifies a shift towards more proactive and aggressive tactics by cyber attackers, moving away from traditional attack techniques that are easily defended against.
Similar to using SEO techniques to increase visits to malicious websites, attackers also leverage paid advertising search techniques to enhance the search engine display of fraudulent sites. While neither SEO poisoning nor malicious advertising exploitation attacks involve entirely new techniques, researchers believe these attacks will become increasingly prevalent in 2023. Through malicious advertising exploitation, attackers can artificially elevate the search rankings of certain illicit websites, misleading unsuspecting victims. An example is an imitation ad for Blender, a free 3D graphics software. When users search for this keyword, the top three website links all direct to a malicious, fraudulent site.
As of 2024, blockchain technology is gaining increasing recognition for its potential to upgrade network security measures. The core value of blockchain is a decentralized ledger technology renowned for its inherent security features such as immutability, transparency, and resistance to tampering. These characteristics make blockchain attractive for safeguarding digital transactions and protecting data from online threats.
One of the primary ways blockchain boosts network security is through its capability to prevent data tampering. Once data is recorded on the blockchain, it cannot be altered without network consensus, making it nearly impossible for hackers to manipulate. This feature is handy for protecting sensitive data, such as personal identification information, financial transactions, and critical infrastructure data. Blockchain is also employed to create more secure and decentralized identity management systems. By storing identity data on the blockchain, individuals and organizations can exert better control over who accesses their information, thereby reducing the risks of identity theft and fraud.
Looking ahead to 2024, blockchain is expected to play an even more integral role in securing Internet of Things (IoT) devices. Integrating blockchain into an IoT network allows each device to operate as a secure, independent node, making the entire network more resilient to attacks that often target centralized security vulnerabilities. Additionally, blockchain-based smart contracts are expected to increase use in automating and securing digital agreements. These self-executing contracts can protect the security of various online transactions, ensure compliance and reduce the risk of breaches.
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