The Most Dangerous People on the Internet in 2023

In 2023, the world has felt prefer it was balanced on a precipice. A United States presidential election looms, with a resurgent candidate that threatens to deliver with him all of the chaos of 2016 and 2020. Artificial intelligence developed so shortly that it appeared to have abruptly sprung into being, heralding huge societal promise and disruption simply across the bend of its exponential curve. And the world’s richest man continued to make use of his energy to push for a extra reckless tech world, from free-for-all social media and oversold assisted-driving options to AI with a “rebellious streak.”

In the midst of that uncertainty, a brand new struggle between Israel and Hamas added extra atrocities alongside the slow-burning horrors of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. These wars have echoed throughout the web in propaganda, hate speech, and cyberattacks that triggered widespread real-world results. Chinese state-sponsored hackers, in the meantime, sowed the seeds for a future cyberwar, and ransomware gangs resurged. It was a banner yr for chaos, current and impending, and all mirrored within the digital mirror.

Each yr, WIRED assembles a listing of probably the most harmful folks, teams, and organizations on the web—each those that deliberately endanger harmless folks and people whose actions, no matter their intent, destabilize the world as we all know it in myriad methods. Here, in no specific order, are our picks for 2023.

Elon Musk

A yr in the past, it may need nonetheless been honest to treat Elon Musk as an excellent technologist with occasional harmful, trollish tendencies. In 2023, these tendencies appeared to take over his public id. Twitter, now renamed X because of Musk’s branding whims, this yr invited again conspiracy theorists like Alex Jones and even amplified one account’s antisemitic statements. When advertisers complained, Musk managed in a single dialog to each apologize for that blunder and inform them, “Go fuck yourself.”

Before that, in July, Musk had stated that his social media platform’s advert income had fallen by half—all of which calls into query whether or not this once-central platform for on-line dialog will survive Musk’s reign, and in what kind.

In the midst of that meltdown, Musk’s new startup xAI launched Grok, an AI chatbot Musk celebrated for having fewer guardrails than OpenAI’s ChatGPT. Musk faces requires an SEC investigation for his feedback about how monkeys died in experiments carried out by his mind implant startup Neuralink. And in mid-December, Tesla recalled practically each mannequin of its automobiles offered within the US to repair an Autopilot function. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration discovered that Tesla’s security measures for assuring that drivers paying consideration—which many little doubt weren’t, maybe thanks partially to Musk’s personal descriptions of the assisted-driving function—have been insufficient.

Five years in the past, WIRED put Musk’s face on the duvet with a narrative that described his Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde character. These days, it is changing into clearer which facet of that break up character dominates.


In 2023, ransomware resurged. According to cryptocurrency agency Chainalysis, it seems to be on observe to be the second-worst yr on document by way of whole extortion funds collected by the ransomware trade’s coercive gangs of hackers. But maybe no group did extra injury this yr than the folks behind the Cl0p malware.

In May, the Cl0p gang started exploiting a zero-day vulnerability within the MOVEit file switch software program and used it to hold out a stunning spree of intrusions throughout greater than 2,000 organizations, based on ransomware-focused safety agency Emsisoft. A single sufferer, medical agency Maximus, misplaced management of the info of no less than 8 million folks within the breach. The hackers stole knowledge from the state authorities of Maine on one other 1.3 million. In whole, no less than 62 million folks have been affected, and Cl0p’s hackers stay at massive.


If Cl0p have been probably the most ruthless ransomware hackers of the yr, Alphv, often known as Black Cat, have been definitely in shut competition. The group, which has ties to the hackers who carried out the 2021 cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline, gained a brand new degree of notoriety in September when it focused MGM Resorts International, shutting down pc techniques throughout the resort and on line casino chain and finally doing $100 million in injury, by MGM’s estimate. More broadly, the FBI says that Alphv has compromised over a thousand organizations and extracted greater than $300 million in ransoms.

In mid-December, the FBI introduced that it had seized the dark-web web site the place Alphv publishes its victims’ stolen knowledge. Hours later, the positioning reappeared, and Alphv defiantly introduced it had “unseized” it and would not abide by a rule to not goal vital infrastructure techniques. The web site was quickly taken down once more. But provided that no members of the group have been arrested and even indicted in absentia, its chaos will possible proceed.


No occasion of 2023 has shaken geopolitics as abruptly and shockingly as Hamas’ atrocities in opposition to civilians in Southern Israel on October 7. The assaults, by which Hamas militants killed 1,200 folks and took lots of of hostages, instantly triggered a struggle that threatens to destabilize the area. It has additionally shaken the tech world, the place it has raised questions concerning the digital applied sciences which have enabled Hamas, from the thousands and thousands of {dollars} the group raised through cryptocurrency to its channels on Telegram, the place it distributes propaganda and movies of its violence. When ISIS got here to prominence in 2014, it compelled each expertise platform on the planet to query whether or not and the way it enabled extremist violence. Now, a decade later, a brand new spherical of horrific bloodletting reveals how that reckoning continues.


Despite sanctions, indictments, and even a $10 million bounty, Russia’s workforce of hyper-aggressive navy intelligence hackers generally known as Sandworm are nonetheless on the market—and nonetheless lively. As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine grinds towards its third brutal yr, in actual fact, they seem to have turned their focus to that battle.

This yr, Sandworm was revealed to have carried out a third blackout cyberattack in opposition to a Ukrainian electrical utility, this time within the midst of a Russian air strike hitting the identical metropolis. It later penetrated Ukrainian navy communications in a extra conventional espionage-focused effort to achieve a bonus throughout Ukraine’s counteroffensive. And proof factors to Sandworm’s accountability for a cyberattack simply this month that hit the telecom Kyivstar, taking out web and cell communications for thousands and thousands amid one other collection of strikes. The group, in different phrases, continues to earn its status because the Kremlin’s most harmful hackers.

Volt Typhoon

For years, the cybersecurity group has requested itself who may be the “Sandworm of China.” This yr supplied maybe the closest factor but to a solution. The hacker group dubbed Volt Typhoon by Microsoft was revealed in May to have planted malware in energy grid networks throughout the continental US and Guam, in some instances with an obvious eye towards controlling the move of electrical energy to US navy bases. More not too long ago, The Washington Post revealed that Volt Typhoon’s targets have prolonged to different kinds of vital infrastructure too, from an oil and gasoline pipeline to a significant West Coast port and a Hawaiian water utility.

While the intentions of the group and its overseers are nonetheless removed from clear, cybersecurity and geopolitical analysts more and more see it as laying the groundwork to disrupt key US techniques within the occasion of a disaster—corresponding to China invading Taiwan.

Donald Trump

Last yr, for the primary time since 2015, Donald Trump was not included on this record. Hope you loved the break!

Less than 11 months out from the 2024 US presidential election, Trump leads Republican main polls by a large margin. He has used his rekindled relevance to launch disturbing assaults on his perceived enemies, largely from his personal right-wing-dominated Truth Social platform.