Security issues to fear in the New Year

An increasingly complex and networked world poses new threats; cloud computing, social networking and mobile platforms claim the attention of security prognosticators for 2010.

This is the season for top, best and worst lists, so it is appropriate to bring you a list of the things that are likely to be keeping you awake nights throughout the coming year. Predictions are risky, however, so in order to spread the risk (and the blame) I have searched for some consensus in what the deep thinkers at some of the large IT and security organizations are worried about.

Everyone has his own point of view and ax to grind, but the patterns show concerns about an increasingly complex and networked IT environment, with new and increased threats coming in cloud computing, social networking and mobile platforms.

Cloud computing was one of the major buzzwords of 2009, but there has been a persistent undercurrent of concern about security associated with it. Those concerns are coming to the forefront as the bad guys are expected to be on the lookout for vulnerabilities to exploit in cloud environments, and for opportunities to use the cloud for their own nefarious purposes. Cost savings will continue to drive a migration of public data to cloud environments, but criminals are expected to follow.

“We have already seen the emergence of ‘exploits as a service,’” the folks at IBM wrote in their year-end musings. “In 2010 we will see criminals take to cloud computing to increase their efficiency and effectiveness.”

The botnet services market is also expected to grow, as herders of these illicit networks look for more ways to leverage their investments in compromised computers.

“My greatest hope for 2010 is that marketing departments will give the term ‘cloud computing’ a well deserved break,” said Michael Sutton, VP of security research at Zscaler. “2009 saw great interest in the development of cloud-computing architectures and one must wonder how often security was sacrificed in order to get to market quickly.”

Wise administrators will delay moving sensitive data to the cloud until security catches up with functionality.

The Web is expected to be a fertile field for developers both good and evil. Browser exploits are old hat, and Web worms are predicted to be a growth area. This leads ICSA Labs, a testing and certification laboratory, to predict increased adoption of Web Application Firewalls as the market for them matures.

The Web is closely tied with platforms such as social-networking sites that are becoming more flexible and powerful, allowing user-created functionality as well as content. This could offer a great playground for hackers and other bad guys as they introduce and exploit vulnerable code, and the site owners will be struggling to combat them.

Last year saw worms such as KoobFace spreading through social-networking sites, and bot attacks spewing fake password reset notices to users. Social-networking tools such as Twitter are being used to distribute malware, and social-networking sites are an ideal place for social engineering. Users without a high level of skepticism could become their own worst enemies as they fall prey to solicitations and messages delivered through and to these sites.

And while we’re online, the proliferation of specialized applications for mobile devices is seen as another growing threat. The availability of these applications, which can range from business tools to gimmicks and toys, help to drive the adoption of new platforms, but security assurance for these applications often is minimal.

“The increasing popularity of mobile phones running the Android [operating system] combined with a lack of effective checks to ensure third-party software applications are secure will lead to a number of high-profile malware outbreaks,” Kaspersky Lab predicted.

Mobile users also will be increasingly targeted by spammers and phishers in the new year, but IBM predicts that direct threats against the devices will continue to remain scarce. “The reason is simple,” IBM said. “PCs remain a much more valuable target, thus criminals will continue to focus on them.”

Keep in mind that new year predictions are not infallible. Sometimes they are not even consistent. Take rogue antivirus, for example, those malicious programs offered to remove supposed malware and which cause more problems than they cure. Their day has passed, says Kaspersky. “The fake antivirus market has now been saturated and the profits for cybercriminals have fallen,” the company said. But ICSA predicts that the rise of legitimate antivirus products being offered for free will be accompanied by an increase in rogue “scareware.”

One prediction made by ICSA seems incontrovertible, however. “The Windows 7 operating system, while built to be more secure than Vista, will inevitably be riddled with exploitable vulnerabilities.”

Have a happy new year.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.