Websense Predicts Explosive 2012 For Cyber Crime

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London Olympics, US presidential elections, and Mayan calendar will lead to broad attacks by criminals

Cyber criminals have breached the next frontier with the advent of attacks on mobile devices, and it won’t stop there according to predictions.

Security firm, Websense Security Labs, has released a report highlighting seven major trends in security breaches and cyber crimes for 2012.

Social ID worth more than credit cards

With the explosion in breaches reported in 2011, the company claims that 2012 will see a continued rise in attacks to hijack social media identities, which, says the company, may prove more valuable to cybercriminals than credit cards.

Criminals will actively buy and sell social media credentials in online forums, and by compromising social media log-ins, will be able to manipulate an exponential number of victims in a blended attack method. This modus operandi, used in the most advanced attacks, is set to extend beyond social media, to mobile devices and the ever expanding cloud.

“2011 proved that in the world of enterprise security, anything and everything goes. This year, as broader adoption of mobile, social and cloud technologies explodes, we will see the bad guys move rapidly to take advantage of this shift,” said Dan Hubbard, chief technology officer, at Websense, in a statement.

According to the company, “We’ve already seen one APT attack that used the chat functionality of a compromised social network account to get to the right user. Expect this to be the primary vector, along with mobile and cloud exploits, in the most persistent and advanced attacks of 2012.”

The report warns that if criminals find a way to use mobile location-based services to design hyperspecific geolocation social engineering attempts, believable social engineering scams and the number of victims using smartphones or tablets will sky-rocket next year.

Scareware makes a comeback

Meanwhile, scareware tactics and the use of rogue anti-virus, which fell in 2011, will stage a comeback, according to the reoprt, with some modifications: “Instead of seeing You have been infected pages, we anticipate three areas will emerge as growing scareware subcategories in 2012 – a growth in fake registry clean-up, fake speed improvement software, and fake back-up software mimicking popular personal cloud backup systems.”

In 2012, as an ironic result of websites like Google, Facebook, and Twitter switching to https sessions by default, increasing traffic over SSL/TLS secure tunnels for privacy and protection as well as the growth of mobile and tablet devices, traditional enterprise security companies will struggle to keep up, placing net traffic into a corporate IT blind spot, since encoded traffic cannot be inspected.

With the growing sophistication of cyber attacks and disruptions, security organisations will have to change their approach to defence, from keeping cybercrime and malware out to focusing on outbound inspection and, after an initial infection; containment, severing communications, and data loss mitigation.

Beware who you trust

Again moving with the times, cybercriminals will continue to prey on our hunger for instant gratification and the 24-hour, up-to-the minute news cycle it has spawned. According to Websense,events such as the London Olympics, US presidential elections, the Mayan calendar, and apocalyptic predictions will create new opportunities for criminals to design legitimate looking social media and news feeds to infect users where they are least suspicious.

“One thing we do know from the explosion of breaches, amplification of advanced malware, and propagation of exploit kits is that the common factor here is very simply, the web. Almost all of the major attacks of 2011 employed a web component, whether as a vector, command-and-control center, or the pipeline for stolen data and critical IP. Web attacks are going beyond the browser, and as the number of API web requests gains momentum we will see attackers using the APIs for their own malicious exploitation,” added Hubbard.

“The most advanced criminals are going to ride the waves of personal devices, personal social media use, and personal web activities of employees to create more advanced, social engineering attacks to get in. Many of the business and government attacks in the coming year won’t necessarily be about how complex the code is, but how well they can convincingly lure unsuspecting victims to click,” he warned.

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