2023 review - Rise of the threats

2023 review - Rise of the threats



2023 has been a year marked by a significant escalation in cyber threats, witnessing some of the most sophisticated and impactful cyber breaches to date. This review delves into these incidents, shedding light on the evolving landscape of digital threats and their far-reaching implications.


The Most Significant Breaches of 2023 and Associated Threat Actors

January: MailChimp Data Breach

In January, MailChimp, an email marketing platform, suffered a significant data breach. An unauthorized actor accessed MailChimp’s internal customer service and account management tools, compromising the data of 133 customers. The breach was executed through a social engineering attack on MailChimp employees and contractors, enabling attackers to obtain employee credentials. Notably affected was WooCommerce, a popular eCommerce plugin for WordPress, which informed its customers that the breach exposed names, store URLs, and email addresses​.

February: Activision Data Breach

Activision, a major video game publisher, experienced a data breach in early December 2022, which surfaced in February 2023. Attackers gained access to the company’s internal systems through an SMS phishing attack on an employee, believed to be from the Human Resources department. This breach led to the exfiltration of sensitive employee information, including names, email addresses, phone numbers, and financial data. The breach raised questions about Activision’s compliance with data breach notification laws​.

March: ChatGPT Data Breach

In March 2023, ChatGPT, an AI-driven chatbot developed by OpenAI, experienced a significant data breach. This breach was caused by a bug in the Redis open-source library, leading to the exposure of personal information of ChatGPT Plus subscribers. This included names, email addresses, payment addresses, and partial credit card numbers. OpenAI promptly addressed the bug and initiated a bug bounty program to prevent similar incidents in the future​.

April: Shields Healthcare Group Data Breach

Shields Healthcare Group, a medical services provider in Massachusetts, suffered a data breach in 2023. The breach involved unauthorized access to Shields’ systems, compromising sensitive patient information, including names, Social Security numbers, and medical records. Approximately 2.3 million people were affected, impacting 56 facilities and their patients. Shields responded by securing their systems and enhancing data security measures​.

May: MOVEit Data Breach

MOVEit Transfer software, used for transferring large amounts of sensitive data over the internet, experienced a significant breach in May 2023. The “cl0p” ransomware and extortion gang exploited a critical-rated zero-day vulnerability in MOVEit Transfer, leading to the theft of customers’ sensitive data. Over 1,000 victim organizations and more than 60 million individuals were impacted by this breach​.

June: JumpCloud Data Breach

JumpCloud, an identity and access management firm, faced a data breach in June 2023 due to a sophisticated nation-state actor’s intrusion. The attackers targeted a small and specific set of customer accounts using a data injection attack. The breach highlighted the importance of robust cybersecurity measures against sophisticated and persistent nation-state actors​.

July: Indonesian Immigration Directorate General Data Breach

In July 2023, the Indonesian Immigration Directorate General experienced a major data breach involving the unauthorized access and leakage of passport data of more than 34 million Indonesian citizens. The leaked data included full names, passport numbers, and other personal details. The specifics of the breach were not fully detailed in the available sources​.

August: UK Electoral Commission Data Breach

The UK Electoral Commission, overseeing elections and regulating political finance, was the victim of a complex cyber-attack in August 2023. The breach involved unauthorized access to internal emails and electoral registers containing voter data. The full extent of the damage was not conclusively known, underscoring the vulnerability of democratic institutions to cyber threats​.

September: T-Mobile Data Breach

In September 2023, T-Mobile experienced two separate security incidents. The first involved the exposure of employee data, while the second was due to a system error in the T-Mobile app that exposed customer payment data. The breach highlighted the ongoing cybersecurity challenges faced by large corporations​.

October: 23andMe Data Breach

23andMe, a genetics testing company, suffered a data breach in October 2023. The breach involved unauthorized access to the “DNA Relatives” feature, exposing personal information of users. The breach revealed vulnerabilities in the protection of sensitive genetic and personal information. 23andMe responded with enhanced security measures​.

November: Idaho National Laboratory Data Breach

The Idaho National Laboratory (INL), part of the U.S. Department of Energy, faced a data breach in November 2023. The breach involved the compromise of INL’s Oracle Human Capital Management servers by the SiegedSec hacking group. Sensitive personal information of employees was leaked, highlighting the need for strengthened data protection​.

December: Insomniac Games Data Breach

Insomniac Games, renowned for developing Marvel’s Spider-Man, faced a catastrophic breach by the Rhysida ransomware group. Over 1.67 terabytes of data, including more than 1.3 million files, were leaked. The sensitive data revealed details of upcoming games like Wolverine and a new Spider-Man title, along with internal corporate strategies and employee information. This breach, occurring within minutes, highlights the vulnerability of game developers to cyberattacks and the need for robust cybersecurity measures.

Overview of Key Threat Actors in 2023


In addition to the specific breaches, 2023 saw the rise of several key threat actors causing significant disruptions:

  1. Storm-0558: Known for exploiting vulnerabilities in Microsoft Azure’s Active Directory service.
  2. Lazarus APT: Linked to North Korea, targeted multiple sectors including finance and technology.
  3. LockBit 3.0 Ransomware Gang: Targeted high-profile entities across various sectors.
  4. ALPHV (a.k.a BlackCat) Ransomware Gang: Orchestrated attacks across various sectors, including healthcare and educational institutions.


The sophisticated nature of these attacks underscores the need for robust, evolving cybersecurity strategies. Organizations must be vigilant and proactive in implementing advanced security measures to mitigate such risks.


1. What are Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs)?
Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) are sophisticated, prolonged cyberattacks often targeting high-value targets for espionage.

2. How can organizations protect themselves against such sophisticated breaches?
Implementing multi-factor authentication, regular security training for employees, and staying updated with security patches are key measures.

3. What were some of the most costly impacts of cyber breaches in 2023?
The breaches led to significant financial losses, data theft, and reputational harm, with some breaches costing billions.