Data from dark web forums
NordVPN’s researchers are always tracking the evolving online threat landscape. The more accuracy with which we anticipate emerging risks, the better we can prepare for them. Looking ahead to 2024, the team at NordVPN tried a new approach — they examined the topics hackers seemed most interested in, and drew predictions from those.
The data in this article is based on the discussions and comment threads observed in one of the dark web’s largest hacker forums. By tracking the topics that most interest cybercriminals, we can make predictions about where they’ll be focusing throughout the next 12 months.
2024 cybersecurity predictions
Based on the data gathered from a large dark web hacker forum, NordVPN’s research team has highlighted five cybersecurity predictions for 2024.
Leaked nudes will be trending on the dark web
Forum threads about leaked nude photographs and videos were among the most commented on. With more than 1,800 comments, threads discussing the sharing and hacking of nude images were among the top 20 forum threads, based on interactions.
The discussions centered around the dissemination of images from OnlyFans, Instagram, and other content-sharing platforms.
Leaks of nude images have been on the rise over the last decade. As internet users and celebrities increasingly store private data on the cloud, hackers have more opportunity than ever before to steal sensitive imagery from their victims. Based on these forum discussions, NordVPN researchers are confident that such crimes will only increase in 2024.
AI will be there to help hackers
AI-assisted cybercrime looks set to explode in 2024 — a prediction backed up by AI-related forum discussions among hackers.
Artificial intelligence can help hackers in many ways. For example, AI is likely to be used to improve the spelling and grammar of phishing emails, making it easier for hackers to convince their victims to engage with risky links and attachments.
Cybercriminals have already shown an interest in using AI-generated videos for nefarious purposes. Deepfake videos are appearing across the internet, co-opting the faces and voices of celebrities to endorse scams. AI deepfakes are also increasingly used to generate explicit imagery using the likenesses of real people in an insidious new form of cybercrime.
2023 might have been the year that AI took off across all areas of the internet, but in 2024 users will have to reckon with the darker consequences of this rapidly evolving technology.
The number of amateur hackers will grow
NordVPN researchers believe that the number of amateur hackers is likely to grow in 2024. This prediction is based on the numerous dark web forum posts from people wanting to learn or teach others how to perform cyberattacks.
Some of the most active forum threads included:
- “How to dox”
- “How to hack WhatsApp of your friend by sending a single link”
- “How to instantly crack TikTok accounts easily”
- “Wi-Fi hacking course”
With a growing awareness of cybersecurity threats comes a new generation of would-be hackers hoping to make money from phishing, spreading malware, and stealing data.
Stolen customer data will be even more valuable
According to NordVPN researchers, approximately 55% of discussion threads were focused on leaked customer data. The stolen information included social media credentials, driver’s licenses, home addresses, and personal email addresses.
Customer data can end up being sold on the dark web for large sums of money, and this trend will probably continue into 2024. We can expect to see data from corporate breaches being sold in large bundles to cybercriminals, who can use this information to launch scams, hijack accounts, or steal peoples’ identities.
Biometric authentication won’t be the answer
In recent years, some cybersecurity analysts have hoped that biometric authentication could drastically reduce the risks of cybercrime. After all, if your face or your thumbprint is needed to access your data, how can someone bypass security measures without your consent?
While biometrics are certainly adding useful new mechanisms to cybersecurity infrastructure and authentication processes, hackers are quickly exploring ways to get around these defenses. The forum viewed by NordVPN’s research team included a popular post giving instructions for how to bypass selfie verification.
Biometric authentication certainly has a role to play in digital security, but it is better understood as one part of a larger security solution rather than a silver bullet.
How to stay safe in 2024
2024 is likely to be a dangerous year online. If NordVPN’s dark web research is anything to go by, we can expect data leaks, AI-assisted phishing attacks, and the development of new methods to bypass authentication. To keep your data safe this year, implement the following security practices.
- Keep your apps and operating systems updated. Tempting as it may be to postpone updates, downloading these software patches can resolve bugs and weak spots in your security. If software is not updated regularly, hackers can exploit unfixed issues in the code and then launch cyberattacks against your device.
- Use multi-factor authentication (MFA). If your online accounts have MFA features, turn them on. With MFA enabled, hackers will need to bypass multiple authentication methods to reach your data. A hacker might be able to crack your password or steal your device, but they’ll then need to provide additional proof of identity, like a one-time PIN sent to your email, or a biometric element.
- Protect yourself with a VPN. A VPN, or virtual private network, is one of the simplest and most effective ways to boost your online security in 2024. NordVPN encrypts your internet traffic, protecting your data from man-in-the-middle (MITM) attacks, and hides your IP address. With NordVPN, you also benefit from Threat Protection, a feature that blocks ads and trackers and limits the risks of malware.