Contributed by George Mack, Content Marketing Manager, Check Point Software.

Cyber security threats are increasing in complexity and frequency, making it essential for organizations to stay up-to-date with the latest developments. As we look ahead, it is important to consider the most alarming cyber security threats that are likely to arise. These threats range from hacktivism to country-level extortion, and understanding them is key to ensuring the safety of our data and systems. In this article, we will explore the top 10 cyber security threats of 2023 and discuss the steps you can take to protect your organization from them.

1. Hacktivism. Hacktivism, derived from the words ‘hack’ and ‘activism,’ is the politically motivated use of technology to break into a computer system. Recent statistics show that it is becoming increasingly popular. According to one report, hacktivism accounted for half of the cyber attacks launched in the world, with most of these attacks targeting government, military, and financial institutions.

Hacktivism is also becoming more sophisticated, with many attacks using advanced techniques, such as ransomware and large-scale distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks. Hacktivist groups also share many characteristics with global corporations: highly structured, consistent ideology shared amongst all members, and a formal recruitment process. As the use of hacktivism continues to grow, it is important to understand the statistics and trends associated with it in order to protect against potential attacks. For more information, Check Point Research has done an excellent deep dive on the subject.

2. Nation-backed cyber attacks. Governments around the world are responsible for creating some of the most sophisticated cyber threats used in espionage programs. These digital weapons are often used against other nations for political purposes. For example, there have been cyber attacks from Iran against Albania, Russia against Ukraine and Montenegro, and the attack on New Zealand.

Furthermore, ransomware is one of the most common and dangerous methods of attack created by governments. For example, the leaked NSA exploit, dubbed EternalBlue, is partially responsible for the spread of WannaCry, one of the most devastating ransomware attacks in history. In addition, the Russian government was suspected of being responsible for the Colonial Pipeline ransomware attack in May 2021, as said government may have ties to criminal groups.

Governments must take proactive steps to protect their systems from these threats, such as implementing strong cyber security measures and educating their employees about how to recognize and respond to cyber attacks.

3. Social engineering and phishing attacks. Phishing attacks skyrocketed in 2022, with the Anti-Phishing Working Group (APWG) recording an unprecedented number of phishing attacks. During the first three quarters of the year, a total of 3,394,662 attacks were reported. The first quarter saw 1,025,968 attacks, the second quarter 1,097,811 attacks, and the third quarter 1,270,883 attacks, making each quarter the worst quarter APWG has ever observed.

Cyber criminals are constantly finding new ways to trick their victims. In addition, phishing campaigns are becoming more targeted and personalized, making them even more difficult to detect and defend against. Jess Burn, a Senior Analyst at Forrester Research, said “What we’ve been seeing is an increase in the use of voicemail and text as part of two-pronged phishing and BEC [business email compromise] campaigns.”

As a result, it is important for organizations to stay up-to-date on the latest phishing attack trends and take the necessary steps to protect their networks and data.

4. Cloud security. The world is still transitioning to cloud computing at a high rate. Many businesses are taking the “cloud-first” approach, meaning they prioritize cloud-based technologies when making new purchases. This shift brings about several advantages such as increased efficiency, productivity, and safety.

However, the rapid adoption of cloud computing also raises security concerns due to the lack of clarity around who is responsible for implementing and maintaining security in cloud deployments. For example, 70% of cyber attacks involved businesses hosting their data workloads on the public cloud, with 66% of them leaving misconfigured backdoors, rendering them vulnerable to attack. When transitioning to the cloud, companies must reserve some resources to secure their cloud-based services and applications – especially as the severity of these attacks increases.

5. Ransomware. In 2023, ransomware is still a major threat to computer systems and networks around the world. The global annual cost of cyber crime is predicted to blow past $8 trillion, according to a recent report. In addition, new forms of ransomware have emerged, such as ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) and fileless ransomware, which do not require the installation of malicious software on the victim’s computer.

Furthermore, the healthcare industry is expected to be at high risk in 2023. One investigation discovered that ransomware attacks more than doubled in five years, with personal health information exposure increasing more than 11-fold. As ransomware continues to evolve, all organizations – regardless of the industry – must remain vigilant in order to protect their data and networks from attack.

 6. Supply chain attacks. As companies migrate to the cloud, IT teams are incorporating third-party software solutions into their technology stacks. However, IT professionals are wary of the security risks, with 36% of security professionals reporting that supply chain risks (or supply chain risks) are a top threat to the company’s cyber security. For example, one digital consultant noted that industries such as healthcare, education,  and manufacturing don’t assign anyone to manage third-party risk, and only 39% of the manufacturing industries have secured their third-party access.

How can companies improve their security posture when using third-party software? It requires a multi-faceted approach. First, organizations should ensure that their supply chain partners are using secure and up-to-date software and hardware. Additionally, organizations should regularly audit their supply chain partners to ensure that they are following security best practices. Organizations should also ensure that their supply chain partners are using strong authentication protocols and encryption to protect data. Finally, security leaders should implement a comprehensive security awareness program to ensure that all employees are aware of the risks associated with supply chain attacks and the steps they can take to protect against them.

7. IoT security. As artificial intelligence and machine learning have progressed, they have been increasingly incorporated into smart devices, ranging from lightbulbs and speakers to cars. It is estimated that by 2025, there will be 75.4 billion Internet of Things connected devices installed around the world. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that hackers will increasingly focus their attacks on smart devices.

 8. Cryptojacking. The cost of global cyber crime is estimated to reach an astronomical $10.5 trillion by 2025, according to market and consumer data company Statista. This is further evidenced by the blockchain analysis firm Chainalysis, which reported that cyber criminals had stolen an incredible $3 billion in crypto-based cyber attacks between January and October of 2022. This data portrays that cyber crime in the realm of crypto is becoming an increasingly lucrative business for hackers.

9. Insider threats. Insider threats pose a major security concern for organizations. These threats can come from employees, contractors, and other insiders who have access to an organization’s systems and data. Insider threats can be malicious, unintentional, or even accidental, and can include activities such as stealing data, sabotaging systems, or introducing malware. They can be difficult to detect because the perpetrators often have legitimate access to the organization’s systems and data.

Businesses must take steps to protect themselves from these threats by implementing measures such as access control, user monitoring, and data encryption. Additionally, there should be an incident response plan in place in case an insider threat is detected. By taking these steps, companies can better protect themselves from the risks posed by insider threats.

10. Lack of cyber security resources. Human error is expected to remain a major factor in cyber security threats for the year 2023. This is evidenced by research conducted in 2022 by the World Economic Forum, which found that 95% of cyber security issues could be attributed to human error. Additionally, a survey of cyber security professionals conducted by Cyber Security Hub revealed that nearly a third of respondents (30%) identified a lack of expertise in cyber security as the primary threat to their organization.

You’ve probably heard of many of the cyber threats on this list. However, the fact that these threats still remain after many years is a testament to how sophisticated hackers have become in bypassing security systems.

Cyber security threats will continue to become more sophisticated and complex, requiring organizations to stay ahead of the curve in order to protect their data and systems. Companies will need to depend on artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to detect and respond to threats, as well as automate processes. Finally, user education will become increasingly important, as users must understand the risks of using the internet and how to protect themselves from cyber threats.

In addition, to learn about the five dangerous cyber attacks you should expect in 2023, click here.

Lastly, don’t miss registration for the most important cyber security event of the year; CPX 360 2023. Register here.