Tuesday, January 05, 2010

2010: The Year of Cyber-Threats

Over the past 12 months, the way people use the Internet has evolved significantly and cyber criminals have changed their tactics accordingly, which has resulted in a majority of experts to claim that 2010 will be the year of elevated cyber-threats.

According to the 2010 Threat Predictions report by McAfee Labs, not only has the volume of threats escalated dramatically, but the delivery methods have become more sophisticated”.

Cyber criminals increasingly leverage the news of the day to attack unsuspecting consumers. Celebrity deaths, natural disasters, you name it .

The hubs for communication- Facebook, Twitter and other social networking sites- will become major targets for cyber criminals. Although consumers know to be wary of Web links sent by strangers, they tend to trust Web links and e-mail messages sent by friends and family. Online attackers are learning how to exploit that trust, by delivering malware that appears to come from Facebook friends and Twitter followers e-mails. With 350 million users on Facebook, it’s a very rich target-rich environment.

McAfee also warns that URL shorteners, like those used to accommodate Twitter's 140-character limit, make the cyber criminal's task even easier.

Unlike many typical Web addresses that show Internet users the name of the site they're about visit, shorter URLs tend to display a string of letters and numbers that seem to have no rhyme or reason.

Another Internet security firm Symantec said in its recent report on 2010 threats, URL shortening services will become ‘the phisher's best friend’. The Symantec report says "Because users often have no idea where a shortened URL is actually sending them, phishers are able to disguise links that the average security conscious user might think twice about clicking on.”

However, the number one target for cyber criminals in 2010? McAfee expects it to be Adobe products, especially Flash and Acrobat reader.

Symantec also warned that malware for Mac and mobile devices will increase. As Macs and smart phones (such as iPhones, BlackBerrys and Android phones) increase in popularity, attackers will spend more time figuring out how to exploit them.

So, shape up and protect every electronic device and gadget you’ve got, and brace for a cyber-crime onslaught. Threats have always existed, but more digitization means more attention and immunization.



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