2023 is going to be lit, at least in the cyber and reputation security world.
One day snapshot of Digijaks’ CEO Twitter account @ideagov
So, what is coming in 2023? What do we need to be looking for?
- Polymorphic Malware + Artificial Intelligence. At #1 in the trends due to ever increasing use and now fully automated attacks as well. What the heck is polymorphic malware you may be asking? Basically, it’s computer malware that changes form or goes into hiding when it detects a threat to its own existence. This malware was already prevalent and growing. Artificial intelligence is being used to make viruses harder to detect by training them not just on how they can avoid detection, but also on ways of using your computer’s resources. The increased use of both artificial intelligence and polymorphic malware—fraudulent computer programs that change their structure to avoid detection—together presents a growing risk for enterprises, governments and private organizations alike. Combined with ever lowering costs for criminals and bad actors to mount such attacks, makes it #1 on this list.
- Continued Social Engineering Attacks. Social Engineered Attack presentations account for over 50% of all initial cyber intrusions. By now we have all heard about and maybe even experienced social engineering attacks. They can occur through email, voice, sms, social media, websites and even in person. This can also be extended to sim swapping, and even spoofing cell numbers to receive two factor authentication notifications. This is a relatively cheap and easy attack method from threat actors. They can target anyone with an email address or even a cellphone; and especially anyone using social media. It can be something simple like a lame email with a malware laden link. Or all the way through a live person using small data points about another person to impersonate them with a customer service agent in order to compromise one account, then others from it. Social engineering was used heavily during the Russian attacks on America in the 2016 and 2018, 2019, 2020 and probably the 2022 elections. It will continue to be a huge and growing problem globally in 2023 and 2024. China, Saudi Arabia now are also playing more in this space, especially with the 2022 privatization of Twitter in which the Saudis are the 2nd largest shareholder beyond the owner.
Mobile Device Malware. Most people assume malware and viruses really only target networks, computers and larger devices. However this is not correct. 2022 saw an explosion of mobile device malware, presented in apps, sms attacks and even voice attacks. Like polymophic malwares above; the access for threat actors to these attack vectors continues to get easier and easier. The proliferation of mobile devices and the attack surface areas they create are causing security risks to multiply.
Iot Device Attacks. The Iot (Internet of [Unsecured} Devices) is notorious for not having any cyber security, or barely any. This issue stems from multiple vectors, but increasingly it is due to speed to market trumping security being developed into the full stack. Most Iot Devices do not offer any real cyber security protections. There are no standards for #Iot industry to follow yet for cyber security. Additionally this problem is compounded by a central basket of chips, motherboards and circuitry that is used from device to device; and with multiple manufacturers using the same tech. The explosion of Iot devices for both home and industry is leaping far ahead of cyber security protections. This is creating a wild west of problems. The threat actors know this is a wide open opportunity. They can even use such websites as Shodan.io to find both industrial and residential Iot devices that are connected to the internet. Digijaks CEO Alan W. Silberberg has written about the lack of security in IoT.
Continued Nation State Attacks. Nation State attacks using cyber war and or information war will continue to grow as a major problem. These attacks occur on other nations, companies and even individuals. As the cost of command and control servers drop, more nation-states become active players in using cyberwar. Additionally as the cost of other technology continues to drop, nation state cyber attacks become a cost effective parallel or even additional means of show of force. This could be in the form of electrical grid attacks, social engineering, denial of service attacks. Nation state attacks can also include fake social media, fake websites and exploitative surveillance technology attacks on websites, mobile phones, emails and infrastructure facilities. There is a huge and growing threat of nation state cyber espionage attacks against countries, companies, individuals, reporters, researchers, human rights activists and more.
- “Deep Fakes” is a new form of information warfare that is used by governments and others to create fake news and propaganda. Deep Fakes use machine learning, artificial intelligence and other technologies to produce realistic fake videos of people saying or doing things they never said or did. The creation of fake news using deep fakes has the potential to undermine trust in media reports around the world.
- Use of previously stolen information to create new ransomware based on identity alone. The use of previously stolen information to create new ransomware based on identity alone is a brand new form of attack that can be used by cybercriminals, government agencies and others.
- Increased number of fake social media accounts, many created solely to influence key word metrics negatively. Fake social media accounts, many created solely to influence key word metrics negatively, will be used by cybercriminals and others as a way to manipulate public opinion. The use of these accounts will also make it harder for people to identify real news stories from fake ones.
- Increased number of fake online ads, but serviced on major ad carriers like Meta, Google, Yahoo and even Amazon and Ebay. The increase in fake news content will also be accompanied by an increase in the number of fake ads. Some of these will be created to manipulate the public and political opinion, but others will be used as a means of generating revenue for cybercriminal organizations. The use of bots, automated accounts that interact with social media users and post content on their behalf, will make it easier than ever for criminals to create fake accounts that look real. Additionally, this issue gets into the known vulnerabilities of the ad networks like google or facebook.
- Apple Air Tag and other “follow home” techniques that allows attackers to crossover from cyber into physical life following cars and other things that air tags are placed on. In the future, we can expect to see more and more sophisticated attacks, ones which may not be immediately apparent as such. For example, when you visit a website that has been compromised by hackers and they have embedded some malicious code in it, this can infect your computer without you even knowing. This will help cybercriminals hide their activities from security professionals and law enforcement who are trying to catch them.
- Critical Infrastructure Attacks from domestic sources. The potential for cyberattacks on critical infrastructure is growing. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has identified the electric grid as a “high-impact/high-probability” target, and the National Security Agency (NSA) has warned that the United States may be vulnerable to a “cyber Pearl Harbor” in which hackers take down portions of our power grid. The same trends that have led to a rise in cybercrime in general are also affecting critical infrastructure, such as the electric grid and water treatment systems. In the past decade or so, there have been many reported attempts by foreign governments to compromise these systems. But now we’re seeing more attacks from domestic sources as well.
So. Be careful out there in 2023. Lots to watch out for.
This list is by no means exhaustive. Be alert. Be pro-active. Don’t take cybersecurity for granted, whether at work, at home or even in your connected car.
Author: Alan W. Silberberg Digijaks CEO | December 2022.