Knowledge is power, especially in the field of cybersecurity. You don’t need to be a cybersecurity expert to benefit from understanding the current biggest threats to your digital devices. By learning more about some of the more prevalent forms of attack employed by cybercriminals, you can invest in tools and techniques to keep your devices, data and networks safer. To that end, here are a few of the latest and greatest cyber threats in 2023.
By 2023, ransomware no longer qualifies as an emerging cyber threat, but new varieties of ransomware continue to reshape expectations about what damage ransomware can do to a user’s device and network. The latest evolution, called Clop, is a variant of the well-known CryptoMix ransomware, and it moves swiftly and aggressively to take over devices and data. Long before the encryption process, Clop blocks hundreds of Windows processes and disables key applications, like antivirus solutions, leaving the user almost no protection for their data. Worse, Clop is beginning to target entire networks, not just individual devices, which can mean an even costlier recovery.
While most every user is familiar with the concept of ransomware, fleeceware is a less-understood type of malware, and as a result, it is becoming a popular tool for taking advantage of unsuspecting users. Unlike other forms of malware, there is nothing overtly malicious in the code of fleeceware programs; rather, these applications come with hidden and excessive subscription fees, and unless a user is diligent about managing their expenses, they might not notice their accounts being drained by fleeceware until it is too late. Though fleeceware is not a threat to a user’s data, it is nonetheless dangerous, and users need to be careful to thoroughly research applications before installing them on their devices.
The Zeus family of malware is old — with the first version of Zeus identified way back in 2007 — but it continues to release new variants that put users at risk. The latest version, Zeus Gameover, is a Trojan that accesses a user’s bank account and transfers funds into cybercriminals’ wallets. Unlike other types of Zeus malware, Gameover does not have a centralized server that completes transactions, which makes it essentially impossible for authorities to trace the source of the attacks. Ultimately, if a user succumbs to a Zeus Gameover attack, they will never see their data — or their money — again.
To keep up with happenings around the world, many users engage with news stories through emails, social media and news websites. News audiences radically increased during the COVID pandemic, as many millions of people craved to-the-minute updates on global events. Unfortunately, this increased attention on news has driven cybercriminals to develop a new method of attack, which involves tricking users into interacting with valuable news. What might seem like important news could actually be a malware download in disguise, so users need to be careful to click on news links only from sources they know and trust.
Despite the tumultuous behavior of the crypto market in recent years, participation with crypto investments remains relatively high. In digital spaces, cryptocurrencies and other crypto assets have various benefits, from the protection against inflation to the speed of transactions to the anonymity of crypto accounts. Unfortunately, these benefits have driven many cybercriminals to begin attacking devices and networks with the intention of using their processing power to mine cryptocurrency. Though cryptojacking malware typically runs in the background of a user’s device, it can radically reduce the performance of a device and cut the device’s lifespan by years. Additionally, cybercriminals with access to a user’s device can and do empty users’ crypto wallets, stealing all their valuable crypto investments.
For years, cybersecurity experts have been predicting the application of AI in advancing cyberattacks, and the time has finally come. Cybercriminals around the world are developing AI tools — or taking advantage of existing AI solutions, like ChatGPT — to build new and devastating forms of malware, search for useful vulnerabilities in digital systems or improve other aspects of cyberattacks. Fortunately, the good guys in cybersecurity can use AI, as well. Already, many premium internet security solutions already have an AI component that helps users avoid known and unknown threats. Users should invest in cybersecurity tools that run on AI to ensure that they are adequately protected against AI-based attacks.