2023: an increased risk of major damage caused by ransomware

Avast, a brand specializing in digital security and consumer online privacy according to Gen™, expects an increase in attempted ransomware attacks in 2023, with the risk of leaking the valuable data of individuals and businesses. companies in the event of non-payment of the demanded ransoms. Cybercriminals will innovate further in terms of social engineering, predict Avast experts, surfing on economic difficulties and fears caused by the energy crisis. They also expect a general increase in malicious activity as programs designed to harm (malware) become more accessible and cyber gangs recruit hacktivists for valuable insights.

Ransomware even more threatening and more frequent data leaks

Ransomware attacks are already, in themselves, a nightmare for any person or company. This year we have seen cyber gangs threaten to release their targets’ data if they do not pay a ransom. This phenomenon will intensify in 2023 warns Michal Salat, Director of Threat Research at Avast. ” This situation threatens the personal memories of individuals and poses a double risk for companies. Losing sensitive files and suffering a security breach can have serious consequences for a company and its reputation. “.

For businesses, a successful attack can quickly cost millions in recovery costs after a business interruption, requiring the re-imaging of systems and the use of disaster recovery programs. In the cases of the hospitals targeted, the damage is considerable since the surgical operations are suspended, while the factories, they, see their production stopped. Not to mention that the new global sanctions introduced this year risk putting companies that are victims of ransomware in an unfortunate position: they incur legal proceedings if they pay the ransom demanded from groups registered on specific lists subject to sanctions, in particular those operating from Russia.

The global “scamdemic” still strong in 2023

We’ve been living in a global scamdemic for quite a while, with no signs of it slowing down. Laments Michal Salat. ” Cybergroups are getting more inventive in tricking their targets into paying ransoms or giving up their personal data, because it’s easier to make someone vulnerable than to hack into their devices. Next year we expect attacks taking advantage of economic and environmental concerns. And these scammers don’t just flood inboxes with their phishing emails, they also bombard instant messengers and harass their targets over the phone. “.

In view of the ever more ingenious techniques used, the human being becomes the weak link. In 2023, Avast is counting on attacks targeting social network accounts, hacked to better dupe the friends and contacts of the victims by posing as the legitimate account holder.

The business of cybercrime is growing in sophistication

Avast experts also expect an even greater gain in sophistication from the already highly professionalized malicious activities. Small groups such as Zloader, Racoon Stealer and Ursnif have joined forces this year to pool their skills in order to maximize their income. Avast believes that this form of collaboration will continue. Additionally, the Lockbit 3.0 ransomware group was the first to set up a rewards program for anyone who reported an unfixed bug over the summer; it should inspire others. This type of reward was initially imagined by software publishers for third parties who would report to them vulnerabilities detected in their products. This device helps companies to better secure their software, to be better protected and to protect their customers from cybercriminals. But now, hackers pay third parties to report possible exploitable flaws.

While cybercrime has been on the rise for years, we find that open source malware is easier to find now as it is distributed through platforms such as Discord. The public, especially young people without great technical skills, can thus obtain malicious programs and be tempted to go to the dark side in a context of economic difficulties. says Michal Salat. ” We also see criminal groups recruiting people and paying them to launch Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, or install ransomware on their employer’s devices, for example. Expect to see more malicious activity in favor of software sold as a service, programs distributed to launch DDoS attacks, as well as free open source malware. So many dangerous warning signs of future hackers, thus easily making their first steps in cybercrime “.

How to protect yourself from scam attempts

  • Always research a company and its website before making a purchase. Regardless of the urgency invoked by an enticing limited-time offer, or the urge to treat yourself to a product or service, it is wise to inquire first. Searching for the professional and regulatory information that must be present on the website, alongside the conditions of sale and the privacy policy of the company concerned, will be reassuring because many fake sites do not offer as many elements. Customer reviews are also a good indication.
  • If possible, prefer payment by deferred debit bank card. This payment method is safer than immediate debit cards and bank transfers. Your bank will be on your side in case of fraud or scam, by means of re-invoicing.
  • Never download attachments or click on links from unknown senders. Attachments and booby-trapped websites are frequently used to infect your computer with malware. For example, Trojan horses hide in otherwise harmless email attachments, circulating rootkits, spyware or adware. Some malware just floods with ads, but others are much more nefarious.
  • Never disclose your personal data. When you ask to recover your password, most websites require you to answer a security question. Memorize the information you have entered as a security feature and never share it. Otherwise, scammers could easily answer the questions for you. Of course, this also applies to login credentials and account numbers that you have to keep to yourself.
  • Ensure your safety online. If a website offers two-factor authentication, adopt it. This technique is not unstoppable, but is preferable to nothing at all. Opt for very strong unique passwords on the websites you frequent, making sure to keep them safe with the help of a reliable password manager.

How to avoid ransomware

  • Update software. Make sure that updates offered for your operating system and applications are installed as soon as they are released, as they fix security vulnerabilities, which prevents hackers from circulating their ransomware.
  • Make regular system backups. Ransomware usually works by blocking access to important files. If you have saved them in another safe place, you are less likely to lose them. Perform regular backups of your system and files, knowing that cloud services and physical storage devices are reliable solutions that can be combined for even more security. If your device offers to schedule automatic backups, take advantage of that too.
  • Use an ad blocker. Install an ad blocker coupled to your browser to protect you from malicious ads and unwanted downloads: ransomware can use these two techniques to penetrate your system.
  • Remain skeptical. Always be wary of slightly strange links sent in emails or any messaging platform. Even if the link comes from a known person, nothing says that it has not been hacked. Learn how to spot dubious websites to avoid them at all costs.
  • Use anti-virus. Ransomware will only be harmful if it manages to reach you. Use a robust cybersecurity app that can block malware and viruses before they get near you. Avast On blocks links considered unsafe, questionable downloads and unsafe websites. [SS1]

About Avast

Avast, is a global digital security and privacy brand of Gen™ (NASDAQ: GEN), a global company dedicated to building digital freedom through its trusted consumer brands, including Norton, Avast, LifeLock, Avira, AVG, ReputationDefender and CCleaner. With hundreds of millions of users on the Internet, Avast protects people against cyber threats and those growing connected objects. Avast’s threat detection network is among the most advanced in the world, using machine learning and artificial intelligence to detect and counter threats in real time. Avast solutions for computers, Macs and smartphones have obtained numerous awards and certifications, including by VB100, AV-Comparatives, AV-Test or Se Labs. Avast is also a member of the Coalition against Stalkerware, No More Ransom and the Internet Watch Foundation.

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2023: an increased risk of major damage caused by ransomware

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