What is in store for 2012? Below is a brief round up of the cyber security threat landscape highlighting some of the challenges we can expect during the next 12 months.
Mobile Devices and Apps
The use of mobile devices will continue to grow in 2012, consequently, so too will the volume of attacks targeted to these devices. Every new smart phone, tablet or other mobile device provides another window for a potential cyber attack. Closely tied to the trend of more smart phones and tablets being deployed in the enterprise will be the influx of new apps for those devices. Location-based mobile apps and games all pose potential threats. The risks include access to information such as physical location or contacts lists, as well as the ability for the apps to download malware, such as keyloggers or programs that eavesdrop on phone calls and text messages. Hackers are quickly learning how to harvest legitimate applications and repackage them with malicious code before selling/offering them on various channels to the unsuspecting user.
Attacks carried out as cyber protests for a politically or socially motivated purpose are expected to increase, especially in light of the activist movements continuing to take place across the country and around the globe. Common strategies used by hactivist groups include denial of service attacks and compromise of user credentials to gain access to data, along with posting of emails, credentials, credit card information and other sensitive exfiltrated information.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) Poisoning
Cyber criminals will continue to take advantage of the 24-hour news cycle to target visitors searching on the most popular keywords or sites and infect users via sites designed to look like legitimate news services, Twitter feeds, Facebook posts/emails, LinkedIn updates, YouTube video comments, and forum conversations. We expect cyber criminals to take advantages of notable news events such as the London Olympics, U.S. presidential elections, and Mayan calendar predictions.
Social engineering tactics—including the use of rogue anti-virus to entice users into clicking on malicious links—will continue. Experts also anticipate that in 2012 we will also see a growth in fake registry cleanup, fake speed improvement software, and fake back-up software mimicking popular personal cloud services.
Advanced Persistent Threat
Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) refers to a long-term pattern of targeted hacking attacks using subversive and stealthy means to gain continual, persistent exfiltration of intellectual capital. The entry point for espionage activities is often the unsuspecting end-user or weak perimeter security. APT is likely to remain high in 2012. Whether focused on exploiting vulnerable networks for use as a storage location or relay point, or to gain insider information, cyber espionage will remain a consistent threat to networks.
Spear Phishing Attacks
Spear phishing is a deceptive communication (e-mail, text or tweet) targeting a specific individual, seeking to obtain unauthorized access to confidential data. Spear phishing attempts are not typically initiated by "random hackers" but are more likely to be conducted by perpetrators seeking financial gain, trade secrets or sensitive information. Spear phishing is often the nexus to cyber espionage and will continue to grow.
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