Cyberthreats reached a new high this year, with AI playing a major role


Historically, summer is the time of year when hacks and malware scams drop in volume and intensity, mostly because people are on holiday and not as active online as the rest of the year.

However 2023 seems to have bucked this trend, with adware, malvertising, spyware, and other forms of malicious activity spiking in the months from July to August, according to a report from Avast, which reported that during this period, its tools blocked more than a billion attacks every month, which is a new record.

One of the key reasons for this switch in trends is the deployment of Artificial Intelligence (AI) which makes attacks easier to set up, and more potent. Jakub Kroustek, Avast Malware Research Director, said the team was “blown away” by the results of the research. “Apparently the days of cyberthreat seasonality are long gone with the increased use of AI and advanced tools at the fingertips of cybercriminals.”

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AI-powered innovations

While attacks may be spiking, there’s nothing spectacular or revolutionary in terms of the threats themselves. The hackers are still deploying adware, malvertising, spyware, and are engaged in finance scams, identity theft, romance scams, and similar.

There are some novelties, though. One is called “Invisible Adware”. This type of malware, which has already been downloaded more than two million times on the Google Play Store alone, allows threat actors to display ads on a mobile device even while the screen is turned off. Best case scenario - victims end up with a drained battery sooner. Worst case - malware is installed without their knowledge. The other one is called Love-GPT, and this is an AI-powered tool that creates realistic personas on popular dating apps.

When it comes to finance scams, the most affected countries are Japan (+19%), Greece (+17%), and the US (+14%). Elon Musk, Mr. Beast, and Donald Trump, are some of the most impersonated individuals out there.

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