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Key security threats to protect against in 2013

Mon Dec 31 2012, 11:00

Trend said it identified 25,000 Android malware samples in the second quarter of 2012, more than double the 11,000 it had predicted and more than four times the 6,000 it found in the previous quarter.

"While traditional PC malware may recede a bit next year, threats to devices running the Android operating system will more than replace it," Trend Micro told us when we asked how Android malware will develop in 2013.

It also added that the emergence of such devices in a more digital lifestyle means that threats could appear in new and unexpected places, such as television sets and home appliances.

British security vendor Sophos also predicts that malware, specifically ransomwear, is one of the main concerns of 2013, a threat that sees the encryption of your data and holds it for ransom.

"The availability of public key cryptography and clever command and control mechanisms has made it exceptionally hard, if not impossible to reverse the damage," Sophos said in its most recent security threat report.

"Over the coming year we expect to see more attacks which, for IT professionals, will place a greater focus on behavioural protection mechanisms as well as system hardening and backup/restore procedures."

State-sponsored attacks and cyber warfare

Hacker
Finnish security firm F-secure states that data leaks will reveal more government-sponsored espionage tools in 2013.

"It's clear from past leaks about Stuxnet, Flame, and Gauss that the cyber arms race is well underway," said the firm's chief research officer Mikko Hypponen.

F-secure notes that while we may not always be aware of nation states' covert cyber operations, we can expect that governments are more and more involved in such activity.

"In 2013, we'll most likely see more leaks that definitively demonstrate this, and from countries who haven't previously been seen as a source of attacks. As the arms race heats up, the odds of leaks increase," Hypponen added.

Hacktivism and DDoS attacks

Anonymous news site
Finally, a threat that all the security firms we spoke to agree will continue to be prevalent in 2013 is hacktivism.

Each company made clear that hacking isn't just about stealing money - either by directly accessing bank accounts or by stealing confidential data - and hacktivism is an example of how in many cases, money is not the only motive behind attacks.

"Sometimes the purpose of an attack is to make a political or social point. There was a steady stream of such attacks this year," said Kaspersky.

"This included the DDoS attacks launched by Anonymous on government websites in Poland, following the government's announcement that it would support ACTA, the hacking of the offcial F1 website in protest against the treatment of anti-government protesters in Bahrain, and the hacking of various oil companies in protest against drilling in the Arctic."

It's clear that society's increasing reliance on the internet makes organisations of all kinds potentially vulnerable to attacks of this sort, so from what the security vendors predict for the year to come, it looks like hacktivism is a threat that is set to continue with the same, if not more relevance in 2013 and beyond. µ

 

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