2022 is almost over, and the threats seen during the year have built the foundations for 2023’s threat landscape, according to McAfee. Cyber criminals will benefit from new technologies such as AI or Web3.
McAfee reports that artificial intelligence-generated videos and images have been used more often in 2022 than in previous years to conduct fraud, as more applications offer the tool to users who don’t have any prior knowledge of AI. Also, victims might not know AI technology is now widely available and can be used against them in different scam schemes.
In addition to fraudulent use of video AI, AI used for fake voice has also risen, often used in vishing fraud to make phone calls seem more realistic and without leaking the fraudster’s real voice. All of the progress made in AI-generated content also provides benefits to cyber criminals interested in running influence campaigns to manipulate public opinion via fake videos.
SEE: Password breach: Why pop culture and passwords don’t mix (free PDF) (TechRepublic)
2023 will probably see such operations of disinformation in the U.S. as the 2024 presidential election approaches. The only protection against this kind of threat is to fact-check and be wary of any content on the internet.
Financial scams via Web3 will keep increasing with the help of new technologies
2022 also saw a lot of cryptocurrency scams, some of them professionally perpetrated. One scam for example used an old video of Elon Musk talking with other specialists about cryptocurrencies as a lure to have users click a fake website promising to double the users’ crypto money (Figure A).
Another scam sent to legitimate Trezor users asked users to install a fake application and disclose their crypto wallet seed, allowing fraudsters to steal their cryptocurrencies.
Users looking for extra money are particularly prone to fall for investment scams, which McAfee expects to keep growing. According to an IC3 report in 2021, the losses for such scams increased from $336 billion USD to $1.46 trillion USD.
Fake loans also hit users hard, especially those who unfortunately are the most vulnerable. This fraud will largely increase in 2023 according to McAfee experts, who strongly encourage users to always use trusted providers and be careful with online advertisements.
The increased use of the metaverse also might attract more cyber criminals into exploiting the lack of understanding of how the metaverse works to scam people. A dramatic increase of fraud is expected here for 2023, as more and more users access those virtual worlds.
ChromeOS threats increase
Android is the most popular operating system for smartphones and has already been targeted for a long time by cyber criminals. This is due in part because Android runs so many applications, and most users are not really mindful when installing new ones. Malicious Chrome extensions might also be used by cyber criminals on those systems.
McAfee expects Chromebook users to be more targeted by fraudsters via malicious Android applications, progressive web applications or Chrome Web Store extensions in 2023. To limit risks and prevent from having a device infected by malware, users should be careful when installing applications and should never install untrusted apps.
Why Web3 threats will expand in 2023
Web3 can be defined as a new iteration of the world wide web which incorporates concepts such as decentralization, blockchain technologies and token-based economics.
According to McAfee, the Web3 threat will benefit from FOMO, or the fear of missing out, a feeling people can get from missing a party where others are having more fun than themselves.
Cryptocurrencies hype skyrocketed with Bitcoin and some other cryptocurrencies being spoken of everywhere, and more and more users want to have some. Amateur investors looking for a way to get a lot of money quickly by playing with the cryptocurrency market might fall for fraud emphasizing that situation.
Most users with an interest in Web3 will start exploring it and working on it without a full understanding of how it works and where its dangers lie. This makes it easier for cyber criminals to scam them on cryptocurrency or non-fungible tokens.
It is no doubt that Web3, although it has a lot of exciting features and possibilities, has expanded the attack surface and vectors. McAfee expects Web3 cybercrime to grow throughout 2023. Get a jump on these threats by learning the basics of Web3 programming, so you can spot the fakers.
Disclosure: I work for Trend Micro, but the views expressed in this article are mine.