Norton has released new research that details the top cyber trends to watch in 2023, emphasising that the economy will have the most significant impact on the spread of cybercrime next year.
Norton’s experts predict the pressures associated with economic uncertainty and rising costs will create the perfect environment for scammers to take advantage of people when they are more vulnerable.
The expectation is that cybercriminals will trick victims into giving up personal information, emptying their bank accounts, or spending money for products, services or lottery winnings that never arrive.
“We anticipate scammers will continue to prey on the vulnerability of people as economic pressures rise in 2023,” says Kevin Roundy, Researcher and Technical Director at Norton.
“Cybercriminals love to exploit seasonal opportunities, and consumers are facing a perfect storm of rising prices in the middle of the busiest shopping season of the year, when scammers are particularly active. Scams are always harder to detect during the holiday season because consumers expect deep discounts and may believe prices that would normally seem too good to be true.”
Roundy also says that inflation and economic uncertainty heighten the volatility of the threat landscape, and consumers and businesses need to be at the top of their game.
“This year, inflation and other unfavourable macroeconomic factors are likely to make people particularly eager to find good deals and they may therefore be at greater risk than in previous years. Taking a few proactive steps today could help you to be safer all year long.”
Norton says that people should expect a rise in financial-based scams in the coming year. This includes threats such as assistance scams faking government assistance programs to steal Personal Identifiable Information (PII); shopping deal scams setting up fake e-shops promoting low-cost products to steal personal information or cash out without delivering the order; and romance scams asking emotionally vulnerable consumers for money or gift cards.
The research also found that short-staffed companies will be more open to vulnerabilities and that operating with smaller staff, short-staffed companies will lead to a jump in data breaches and ransomware attacks.
Advances in AI are also set to make scamming easier. AI models are used to imitate real people in real-time with deepfakes to trick people into giving over their financial and personal information.
Weak two-factor authentication (2FA) practices are also a concern and will leave businesses and their customers open to severe data breaches, which can lead to mass leaks of consumer information.
With the number of cybercrimes potentially soaring in 2023, Norton advises consumers to be cautious and take logical steps and actions to help prevent further issues:
Be skeptical: Cybercriminals often pose as popular companies, organisations, or people in your network. Users should never directly click on buttons or links without digging deeper and verifying who is actually sending them.
Manage your passwords: Users should be making sure passwords are unique. They can add another layer of security by using a password manager.
Use unphishable factors for MFA: Unphishable factors, such as biometrics, device-level security checks, hardware security keys, and cryptographic security keys are nearly impossible for cybercriminals to intercept, making MFA and 2FA practices more secure.
Get privacy, security and identity protection: Users should consider reputable, paid online security software.