Mobile Devices, Apple Are Targets for Emerging Threats in 2011: ReportBy Nathan Eddy | Print
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Apple’s iPhone Google TV and the Mac OS X platform are all expected to become major targets for cybercriminals.Security specialist McAfee, Inc. unveiled its 2011 Threat Predictions report, outlining the top threats that researchers at McAfee Labs foresee for the coming year. The list comprises platforms and services including Google’s Android, Apple’s iPhone, foursquare, Google TV and the Mac OS X platform, which are all expected to become major targets for cybercriminals. McAfee Labs also predicted that politically motivated attacks would be on the rise, as more groups are expected to repeat the WikiLeaks paradigm.
Of the social media sites that will be most riddled with cybercriminal activity, McAfee Labs said it expects those with URL-shortening services will be at the forefront. The use of abbreviated URLs on sites like Twitter makes it easy for cybercriminals to mask and direct users to malicious websites, and with more than 3,000 shortened URLs per minute being generated, McAfee Labs analysts said they expect to see a growing number used for spam, scamming and other malicious purposes.
"We’ve seen significant advancements in device and social network adoption, placing a bulls-eye on the platforms and services users are embracing the most," said Vincent Weafer, senior vice president of McAfee Labs. "These platforms and services have become very popular in a short amount of time, and we’re already seeing a significant increase in vulnerabilities, attacks and data loss."
Botnets continue to use a seemingly infinite supply of stolen computing power and bandwidth around the globe. Following a number of successful botnet takedowns, including Mariposa, Bredolab and specific Zeus botnets, botnet controllers must adjust to the increasing pressure cybersecurity professionals are placing on them. McAfee Labs predicted that the recent merger of Zeus with SpyEye will produce more sophisticated bots due to improvements in bypassing security mechanisms and law enforcement monitoring. Additionally, McAfee analysts said they expect to see a significant botnet activity in the adoption of data-gathering and data-removal functionality, rather than the common use of sending spam.
The report noted that threats on mobile devices have so far been few and far between, as "jailbreaking" on the iPhone and the arrival of Zeus were the primary mobile threats in 2010. "With the widespread adoption of mobile devices in business environments, combined with historically fragile cellular infrastructure and slow strides toward encryption, McAfee Labs predicts that 2011 will bring a rapid escalation of attacks and threats to mobile devices, putting user and corporate data at very high risk," the report said.