As the Internet and other modern communications technologies continue evolving, so too do the various security threats. With every new laptop or PC desktop computer rental, it seems there’s also another new virus or identity-theft scam. Now a report from the experts at M86 Security Labs predicts the top Internet security threats for 2012, the first three of which continue trends that emerged in 2011: targeted attacks, social media threats and mobile malware.
In 2011, targeted attacks increased dramatically over previous years, lighting up the mass media headlines with well publicized hits on RSA, Sony and Lockheed. With the incredible growth of social media, cybercriminals have developed sophisticated, legit-looking scams on Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to steal users’ personal and financial data and, as usual, spread some more malware around.
With so many tablets, iPad rentals and smart phones around, perhaps the most troubling security trend is malware that exploits weaknesses in wireless/mobile devices, turning them into bots, infiltrating mobile applications and stealing data. With people now using their personal devices at work, cybercrooks can kill two birds with one stone and potentially get both personal and corporate information through a single, vulnerable device.
What’s in store for individuals and companies in 2012? The full report from M86 (PDF) details the top 10 web and e-mail threats that their experts expect to see this year, but today lets focus on targeted attacks (in Part 2, we will discuss social media threats and mobile malware).
Until the last few years, incidents of targeted attacks were rarely made public, as corporate victims preferred not to advertise their weaknesses. However, such “hacktivist” groups as LulzSec and Anonymous happily report on their nefarious deeds. Also, since there are now many more Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) being used against corporate and governmental targets, Internet “battles” and “cyberwars” are regulars in the news.
In 2011, a series of attacks forced Sony to shut down its PlayStation service for long enough to lose lots of money (and even more credibility, since confidential user information was obtained). A cyber-attack on Lockheed-Martin may have resulted in the theft of fighter jet blueprints. Armed with no more than a Linux netbook, a PC laptop or a MacBook Pro, a hacker can cause real chaos, and real easily, so you should expect more attacks via APTs in 2012 – and more of them being launched against big corporate targets.