2023 Predictions

2023 Bitdefender Cybersecurity Predictions

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2022, just like the years before, wasn’t a peaceful year for cybersecurity. 

The ransomware gang Conti threatened to overthrow the government in Costa Rica. 

Another cybercriminal collective, Lapsus$, perfected the social engineering attack vector and victimized Microsoft, Nvidia, Uber, Globant, and several other large tech companies, leaking sensitive data throughout the year. 

Advanced persistent threat (APT) groups continued to evolve and adapt, developing sophisticated custom-made tools capable of overcoming even the best defenses. 

Among the many industries targeted, hackers continued to increase attacks on healthcare providers, affecting millions of patients throughout the world. 

The year culminated in the password manager LastPass disclosing additional details of an earlier breach and confirming that hackers have copied customers’ encrypted vaults, while The Guardian, one of the UK’s leading newspapers, had to shut down its offices due to a ransomware attack.

What are the Bitdefender cybersecurity predictions for 2023?

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IoT: More vulnerabilities, slow mitigation

Attackers will continue to take advantage of the readily available vulnerabilities of the many IoT platforms and devices. 

Faulty authentication, unprotected data transfer, cloud misconfiguration, Remote Code Execution and Command Injection attacks, and privacy issues are among the most common and persistent IoT problems requiring cooperation between the IoT device industry and the infosec community. Echoing the sentiment at the 2022 Black Hat conference, security researchers won’t tire of reaching out to device manufacturers with vulnerability disclosures and patching.

As a step in the right direction, leading smart home device manufacturers have begun to adopt the Matter protocol. Matter embodies best practices around security, and the hope is that the broader IoT community starts moving in the same direction of interoperability, simplicity, and a common set of security standards.   

However, the current slow mitigation isn’t expected to improve drastically until governments implement various regulations, such as the IoT Cybersecurity Improvement Act of 2020 in the United States or the EU’s Cyber Resilience Act (which might take effect in 2025). These introduce mandatory cybersecurity requirements for IoT devices.

Ransomware persistence, malicious drivers and bootloaders

Ransomware will continue to plague Microsoft Windows systems in particular. The latest malware worms spread like wildfire, while attackers can leverage Ransomware-as-a-Service (RaaS) kits to easily and cheaply build and deploy multitudes of their own variants. 

In 2022, ransomware groups adapted to the changing world, improving extortion techniques and changing the programming language of their code. BlackCat RaaS, for instance, developed malware using Rust, considered a more secure programming language than C and C++. 

Next year, these gangs are expected to look for new technological solutions, such as novel entrypoint or antivirus software bypass techniques. 

In particular, malware written in unconventional (for hackers) programming languages like Rust, Go, or Swift is likely to continue to increase. Not only does this help to avoid detection and hinders analysis for security researchers, it allows ransomware to target a higher number of users across different operating systems.

In another worrying new development, cybercriminals can now easily explore powerful UEFI bootkits, such as BlackLotus. Potentially undetectable by antivirus software, such malicious bootloaders were associated with experienced hacker gangs and APT groups, but are now available for sale to anyone.

More malware, more phishing for mobile devices

Attackers will continue to deploy malware spreading through links received via text messages, like FluBot. Both a spyware and a banker—it copies and spreads through all the victim’s contacts and steals financial information stored on the phone—this type of Android Trojan is very hard to contain and can easily adapt to the current social or political situation. A SMS can notify of a failed delivery or invite to lower the electric bill or to view a friend’s photo.

With Ukraine pushing to reclaim more of its territory from Russian invaders in 2023, Russian hacktivists are expected to retaliate by continuously targeting Ukrainian—and Western—organizations with malware. Russian state-backed APT groups are likely to offer their malware-as-a-service to any interested threat actors.

The latest trend of fake apps bundled with spyware and malware, mimicking legit Google Play Store applications won’t subside. Using ever-evolving social engineering methods on gullible victims through messaging, social media apps, and even voice calls, cybercriminals will continue to easily install malicious software intended to gain remote access or conduct financial fraud.

Evolving cybersecurity

As attackers continue to modify and revise their tactics, cybersecurity changes as well.

2022 was the year when the cyber insurance market started to harden. Premiums were rising and the underwriting standards were tightened.

In 2023, the market is expected to continue growing, with cyber insurance providers implementing more appropriate system checks and monitoring capabilities. That’s why, managed detection and response (MDR) services are shaping up as a key tool helping organizations sign up for coverage in the new year. 

In a similar trend, more and more organizations will be switching from traditional cyber prevention mechanisms to more holistic prevention, detection, and response. According to the December 2022 Bitdefender Cybersecurity Posture Survey, 53% of respondents’ organizations have already moved on to prevention, detection, and response approach. Out of those who are still focusing only on prevention, 12% are testing and 32% are considering adopting a more proactive cybersecurity strategy in the near future.

Cybersecurity teams will continue to grow, but budgetary and hiring concerns are likely to push organizations to choose more automated solutions. Consider the numbers. Only 18% of Bitdefender survey respondents have dedicated cybersecurity personnel in their IT departments, for the vast majority cybersecurity remains — and will continue to remain — one of the many IT tasks. 

What’s more, since most central banks around the world are concerned about the rising cost of living and high recession risks in 2023, budget constraints worries will continue to grow from the current 48%, leading the majority to look for integrated and partially automated cybersecurity solutions.   

Such solutions allow organizations to leverage their own resources and while automating certain services, concentrate and consolidate efforts on those aspects that matter to them most. 

Learn more by checking out our 2023 predictions webinar.

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