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  • Burton Kelso, Tech Expert

How to Avoid The Top Cyber Threats in 2023



It's 2023 and it's hard to believe we are still talking about how cyber threats are affecting our lives. With big tech companies constantly evolving to protect us from cybercrooks, you would think that we could finally live in a world where cybercrime is non-existent. With cybercrime being a billion-dollar industry, it's hard for criminals to ignore this income source, which means they are always looking for ways to attack your computers, devices, and online accounts to get access to your personal data. Information and education is the biggest key to staying safe from cyber threats, so you need to check out the hottest threats for 2023 and tips to help you stay safe from them forever.


Social Engineered Attacks. If you remember anything about knowing how to protect yourself and your devices from cyber threats, understand that Cyber Crime is a human problem. Criminals have moved away from attacking computers and smart devices like smartphones and tablets because they understand humans are the weak link in getting access to large networks and individual devices. You can have all the software and hardware protection for your home or office network, but all it takes is a curious or careless person clicking on a link in an email, using weak passwords, or voluntarily sharing sensitive data, then crooks can get access to the data they seek. 99% of Cyberattacks require human interaction to be effective. The LastPass, Twitter, and Colonial Pipeline hack all occurred because a careless employee fell for a phishing scheme.


Ransomeware Attacks. Ransomware comes in several forms, but the worse of these attacks is when criminals trick an unsuspecting user to click on a link in an email or text. What happens next is an attack on your files on your individual networks or business networks that will encrypt or lock all of your critical files such as pictures, documents, or videos. You will then receive a ransom note demanding payment for the retrieval of all of your files.


Automobile Attacks. Most automobiles on the road are essentially smart devices on wheels. If you connect your car or truck to Bluetooth or wifi networks, you could potentially be at risk for several attacks such as microphone eavesdropping and complete control of critical systems which include, locks, airbag deployment, engine systems, and automatic driving systems.


Mobile Device Attacks. As you turn away from your desktop computer, hackers will set their sights on how to target your mobile devices. Plan to see more attacks that are geared toward gaining access to your laptops, smartphones, and tablets. This means you could potentially see more Vishing (voice phishing) and SMShing (text message phishing) attacks geared at gaining access to your mobile devices as well as SIM card fraud as crooks try to steal your mobile number.


Social Media Attacks. How many of you have seen messages in your social media accounts from people who have had their accounts hacked or duplicated? These attacks won't stop in 2023 as criminals have figured out most people don't take the security of their social media accounts seriously. A compromised social media account means loss of money and a ruined online reputation. Doesn't matter what social media account you use for fun or for business, you need to protect all of them.


State-Sponsored Cyber Attacks. State-sponsored cyber attacks can come in all forms from specific countries or from criminals organizations and terrorist groups. These attacks vary from misinformation being shared on social media, to phishing attacks and ransomware.


Internet of Things Attacks. The IoT or Internet of Things is any device that is connected to the Internet, specifically smart home devices such as smart home hubs, web cameras, and even personal or device trackers. Normally cyber crooks don't target these items, but you should be aware if an online bully or abuser gets access to these devices. They can track and harass you from anywhere in the world and know your every step.


Cloud-Based Cyber Attacks. Just like your IoT devices, any cloud-based account you own such as banking and financial websites will be a target to criminals. Cloud-based means that anyone else can access your account from anywhere in the world. Emails and passwords leaked in data breaches mean crooks can use your credentials to access your information and steal your personal data.


Supply Chain Attacks. I know, it sounds like parts issues will cause cyber attacks, but this term is used to describe when the vendors of parent companies are breached. Like the Solarwinds hack, sometimes the company storing the data for a larger company is the target of an attack. Sometimes these attacks go unannounced which means your information is leaked on the dark web without your knowledge.


How to stay safe. Change is hard, but you need to change your mindset when it comes to protecting your devices and information. This means you have to stop thinking criminals won't target you or your accounts. We all are at risk. Follow these simple steps:


Stop sharing your mobile number with the world. Your mobile number should only be shared with close family and friends. Criminals can steal your number to commit SIM card fraud to clone your cell phone to track you or use your number to take complete control of your mobile account. To protect your number, use a Google Voice or What'sApp account. You can make calls through these apps that will protect your mobile number and only give out the number of Google Voice or What's App.


Check to see if your information is floating on the dark web. As mentioned above, many companies experience hacks and data breaches which lead to your information being leaked to the dark web without your knowledge. Wondering why you experience tons of spam messages and phone calls? It's because criminals found your information on the dark web. Visit www.haveibeenpwned.com to see if your email, phone number, or password was exposed in a data break. If you discover that it has, time to change passwords for your online accounts.


Stop using passwords and start using passphrases. Passwords are old, tired, and unsafe as you will potentially use the information to create a passphrase that has ties to personal information like birthdates, high school, and your grandmama. Passphrases are two unrelated words that create a password. Not sure how to create one, visit www.useapassphrase.com


Have multiple forms of authentication for all of your online accounts. Two-factor authentication. Multi-factor authentication. It's all the same thing. Just enable it on all of your online accounts to prevent criminals from easily accessing your online accounts.


I hope you can use these tips to help you stay safe from the ever-growing cyber threats in 2023. Remember, the best tool you can use to stay safe from cyber crooks is always check and verify the emails, voice calls, and text messages that show up on your devices. If you need further assistance, please reach out to me with any questions you might have. I am always happy to help!

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