New year, new risks

Issue 1 2023 Cyber Security

Doros Hadjizenonos.

FortiGuard Labs researchers have warned that cyber criminals are finding yet more ways to weaponise new technologies at scale to enable more disruption and destruction. In their Threat Predictions for 2023, the researchers point to an emerging ‘Web3 Wild West’, the looming risks posed by ‘Q-Day’ and the dramatic return of wiper malware as some of the biggest new threats emerging in 2023.

Web3 risks

Web3, the blockchain-based iteration of the internet, aiming to decentralise ownership of the digital economy, offers benefits such as making it easier for development teams to deploy applications without managing and maintaining new infrastructure. However, because Web3 is about the user controlling their own data, and users are often the weakest link, it also presents new risks.

For example, Web3 wallets today do not use MFA, relying only on passwords, which are difficult to recover if lost. The researchers anticipate that before Web3 goes mainstream, regulations may be introduced on how network nodes address fraudulent activities and stolen data.

Q-Day is coming

Quantum computing is already providing breakthroughs in areas like cracking previously unbreakable cryptographic algorithms, prompting warnings that it is only a matter of time before quantum day (Q-Day) arrives, when quantum computers will be powerful enough to break current encryption mechanisms. FortiGuard Labs notes that the security community is working to create new encryption algorithms designed to stand up to quantum computers, but this effort is still ongoing.

A NIST contest for new post-quantum encryption algorithms saw one encryption, Supersingular Isogeny Key Encapsulation (SIKE) suffering a cyberattack from a single-core computer that successfully broke the encryption. FortiGuard Labs also warns that cyber criminals may start using quantum computing for additional nefarious activities.


FortiGuard Labs also notes that wiper malware has made a dramatic comeback in 2022, with attackers introducing new variants of this decade-old attack method. They predict that threat actors will increasingly combine various threats to maximise the level of ongoing destruction they can cause, for example, combining a computer worm with wiper malware to make it easier for the malware to replicate quickly, spread more widely, and cause massive destruction in a short period.

Last year, FortiGuard Labs team predicted a rise in new vulnerabilities, pre-attack reconnaissance among attackers that would pave the way to escalate the growth of Crime-as-a-Service (CaaS). Their prediction came true. We saw a rise in targeted attacks enabled by the RaaS model and more affiliates launching these calculated attacks.

The volume, variety, and scale of cyberthreats will keep security teams on high alert in 2023 and beyond.

2023 defence strategies

Those planning their 2023 security strategies need to start by taking a very high-level view, bracing for the unexpected with a security posture that is flexible enough to be able to react to attacks from any direction. Looking outside for clues about future attack methods will be more important than ever to help prepare before attacks take place. Digital risk protection (DRP) services are a good way to assess your security posture from the outside. CISOs must also have an equal understanding of what is going on inside the company.

Implementing network segmentation is also critical to protecting your organisation from cybercriminals. Segmentation helps prevent attacks from spreading across a network and infiltrating unprotected devices and other systems.

Deception technology (imitating a valuable piece of software or an important device) will help you identify attacks and give you the ability to trace back to where the threat is coming from, including the IP address, and a lot of other forensic information that is necessary to identify and block the attacker.

Regardless of work-from-anywhere, learning-from-anywhere, or immersive experiences-from-anywhere, real-time visibility, protection, and mitigation is essential with advanced endpoint detection and response (EDR) to enable real-time analysis, protection, and remediation.

Whenever possible, enhance security solutions with machine learning (ML) and AI so they can detect attack patterns and stop threats in real time. One of the most important methods to defend against these developments is cybersecurity awareness education and training. Organisations should consider adding new modules that provide education on spotting evolving methods such as AI-enabled threats.

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