Malicious PDFs, deepfakes, and romance scams were just some of the 10 billion cyber attacks we saw last year

Emma McGowan 7 Feb 2024

Uncover the startling surge in cyber threats from our Avast Q4/2023 Threat Report. Over 10 billion attacks last year reveal the critical need to pay attention.

If you've been hoping that cyber attacks were on the decline, brace yourself for a reality check: 2023 was an unprecedented year in cyber threats. We witnessed more than 10 billion attacks , shattering previous records. This isn't just another number; it's a wake-up call about the boldness and craftiness of today's cybercriminals.

The surge in cyberattacks – a whopping 49% increase from the previous year – is something we can't afford to ignore. Most alarming was the spike in the last quarter, with attacks averaging over 1.2 billion a month. The end of 2023 wasn't just busy; it was a glaring sign that cyber threats are becoming fiercer and more relentless than ever.

That PDF might just be an attack

Think PDFs are just for sharing documents? Think again. Cybercriminals are now using this super common file format as their weapon of choice. They're not just stopping at basic phishing; they're pushing the envelope with sophisticated tactics like spreading malware, including the likes of AgentTesla. It's a troubling shift, showing us that even the most familiar digital tools can be twisted for nefarious purposes.

PDFs used to be the go-to for safe document sharing, but now, they've become a digital Trojan horse. Cybercriminals are getting crafty, using PDFs to set up intricate scams and sneak in dangerous payloads, all while playing on our trust and habits. This sneaky strategy is making it harder for us all to spot and stop these attacks, adding a whole new layer of trickiness to staying safe online.

Is that really Taylor Swift? Or is it a deepfake?

Deepfake videos have hit a whole new level of sophistication, and let me tell you, it's getting tougher to tell what's real and what's not. These AI-powered fakes are so convincing they're fooling people left and right, especially in investment scams. It's more than a little unsettling how these deepfakes can mimic reality so closely – it's like we're in a sci-fi movie, but not in a good way. This isn't just a step up for cybercriminals; it's a giant leap.

The fact that deepfakes are being used in cybercrime shows just how clever these bad actors are getting. They're using AI to create a world where seeing isn't believing anymore. We're at a point where we need to up our game, staying extra alert and ready with smarter ways to spot these ultra-realistic fake-outs.

Love is a (global) battlefield

Dating and romance scams are casting a wider net than ever, reaching far beyond the usual targets in the West to ensnare hearts in the Arab states and Asia. These scams prey on our basic human need for connection, leaving a path of financial ruin and broken hearts. With Valentine's Day around the corner, we're bracing for a spike in these heartless scams, putting online daters everywhere on high alert.

The scary thing about these dating scams is how they've gone global, proving that love truly knows no borders—and neither do scammers. They're getting really good at playing on local customs and emotions, making them all the more dangerous. It's a big, bold reminder that when it comes to cybercrime, our hearts can be our greatest weakness, and staying sharp and skeptical is a must, no matter where you are in the world.

As we wade through the ever-changing sea of cyber threats, staying informed and aware is like a lighthouse guiding us to safety. Getting a grip on the tricks and tactics of cybercriminals, and spotting their sneaky scams is our frontline defense. This isn't just about having the latest tech gizmos; it's about arming ourselves with knowledge and cultivating a mindset that's always on alert for digital dangers.

Think of our journey to a more secure online world as more than just a set of actions; it's a whole way of thinking. Be curious, ask questions, and keep up with what's new in the world of online security. The Avast Q4/2023 Threat Report isn’t just a bunch of stats and facts; it’s a rallying cry. It's telling us loud and clear that being aware and ready is our best armor against the ever-shifting threats in the cyber world.

--> -->