Recapping the top cybersecurity threats of 2023

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While there is little doubt that 2024 will have its own share of cyberthreats, the threats of the past should not be forgotten. Not only will many of these threats still be around to endanger your systems and data, but they could also become the foundation for future cyberthreats — such as ransomware 2.0, for example. Thus, the lessons learned to prevent and mitigate the cybersecurity threats of 2023 are still vital. As the old adage goes, “Those that fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”  

The top cybersecurity threats of 2023

By keeping in mind these cybersecurity threats and the steps to counter them, you will be better prepared for when they inevitably resurface in 2024. In addition, some of the steps taken to safeguard against these threats may prove helpful against new threats.


This devastating malware encrypts critical data, forcing businesses to decide between paying the ransom to regain access or losing valuable data and possibly face further business interruption. Unfortunately, paying the ransom does not ensure data recovery. Furthermore, smaller businesses are especially susceptible to ransomware, as attackers know they might lack robust data backup solutions and are thus more likely to pay quickly to resume operations.

Ransomware solutions

  • Regularly update your systems to stay ahead of hackers who exploit vulnerabilities in older versions of software.
  • Maintain data backups detached from your network. Doing so allows you to restore your systems whether or not you pay the ransom.
  • Maintain an inventory of network-connected devices so you can easily identify and address potential malware exposure.
  • Use virtual private networks (VPNs) to safeguard data in transit while using public Wi-Fi networks.

Zero-day attacks

This type of attack exploits previously unknown vulnerabilities in software, often before the developers are even aware of the flaws. Because these flaws are unknown, by the time intrusion has been detected, it may be too late to prevent a data breach or malware infection.

Zero-day attack solutions

  • Configure firewalls correctly to allow only necessary transactions.
  • Install security updates promptly to address vulnerabilities before they can be exploited.
  • Regularly monitor systems to detect and prevent zero-day events.

Human error

Even well-intentioned employees can accidentally share sensitive information or expose their login credentials, putting your company at risk. This is especially true in larger organizations where there may be more employees with access to sensitive databases, creating more points of failure.

Human error solutions

  • Restrict access to sensitive data to authorized personnel per that employee’s clearance level.
  • Implement software to monitor data access and identify suspicious activity.
  • Train employees to recognize and report phishing attempts and other security threats. In addition, educate employees on good practices such as creating stronger passwords.
Read also: NIST’s password guidelines: What you need to know

Social engineering

In social engineering scams, attackers often use psychological manipulation to trick victims into divulging personal information or clicking on a link or attachment that contains malware.

Social engineering solutions

  • Educate employees to recognize and report potential scams and other forms of suspicious activity.
  • Employ a VPN to secure network connections, especially on mobile devices.
  • Constantly monitor activities to detect malware and aberrant behavior such as after-hours access of data.

Data breaches

Data breaches consist of cybersecurity incidents involving unauthorized access to sensitive data, including intellectual property, financial records, and personal information. Data breaches can lead to financial losses, reputational damage, and legal action from regulatory agencies.

Data breach solutions

  • Develop and test an incident response plan in preparation for potential data breaches.
  • Utilize AI-powered technologies such as SOAR, UEBA, EDR, and others for faster threat detection and response.
  • Train employees to handle data securely and avoid accidental leaks.
  • Implement strong password policies, multifactor authentication, and other practices to prevent unauthorized data access.
  • Consider implementing a zero trust framework, which requires continuous user verification.

Cloud security

While cloud services offer many benefits, they also introduce new vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities can broadly be categorized as:

  • Misconfiguration: Improper configuration of cloud resources can leave them exposed to attacks.
  • Poor access control: Poorly secured access controls can allow unauthorized users to reach sensitive data.
  • Shared tenancy vulnerabilities: Vulnerabilities in a shared cloud infrastructure can affect multiple users.
  • Supply chain vulnerabilities: Vulnerabilities in the software or hardware used by cloud providers can create security risks.

Cloud security solutions

  • Assess the security posture and service history of cloud providers before committing to a partnership.
  • Regularly communicate with your cloud provider about your security needs, major restructurings, and any other concerns you have.
  • Consider using intrusion detection systems, encryption, and other security tools to further protect your data.

IoT vulnerabilities

The Internet of things (IoT) primarily refers to smart devices that connect to the internet. These can be appliances or even a smart thermostat. Most such devices lack the robust cybersecurity of a computer or mobile device, creating a potential vulnerability in an otherwise secure network. IoT vulnerabilities will only increase in relevance as more businesses adopt hybrid or work from home arrangements. 

IoT solutions

  • Outdated software creates weaknesses for cybercriminals to exploit, so always keep smart devices up to date and patched. Regularly check the websites of the manufacturers and distributors for new updates.  
  • Only purchase smart devices from verified, legitimate vendors.  


Phishing continues to be a major threat, causing significant financial losses and data breaches for businesses of all sizes. Cybercriminals deceive individuals into clicking malicious links or opening infected attachments to steal sensitive information, such as login credentials or classified personal data. Often, phishers will pretend to be a legitimate organization, and in some cases pretend to be from the victim’s own company.  

Phishing solutions

  • Implement training programs that focus on identifying suspicious email characteristics, recognizing red flags in SMS messages, and understanding the importance of verifying sender authenticity before taking any action.
  • Implement detection systems and spam filters to help identify and block malicious emails and SMS messages. Regularly update these systems and filters to ensure they remain effective against evolving phishing attacks.
  • Utilize multifactor authentication to provide an additional layer of security beyond a username and password.

Get started on ensuring your systems are protected from both old and new cybersecurity threats by contacting Refresh Technologies.