Hacker Report: More Malware in 2011

Wednesday, December 15, 2010 @ 05:12 PM gHale

There will be few radical innovations in cyber crime next year. That is the good news. The bad news, however, is hacktivism and cyberwar, more profit-oriented malware, social media, social engineering and malicious codes with the ability to adapt to avoid detection will come on strong in the new year, according to a report by Spain-based anti-malware laboratory, PandaLabs.
“Once again we have dusted off the crystal ball and this is a summary of what we reckon will be the ten major security trends during 2011,” said Luis Corrons, Technical Director of PandaLabs:
The major security trends of 2011:
Malware creation: This year saw significant growth in the amount of malware and PandaLabs discovered at least 20 million new strains, more than in 2009. The actual rate of growth year-on-year however, appears to have peaked. Several years ago it was over 100 percent and in 2010 it was 50 percent.
Cyberwar: Stuxnet and the WikiLeaks cables suggesting the involvement of foreign governments in cyber attacks have marked a turning point in the history of these conflicts. Stuxnet was an attempt to interfere with processes in nuclear plants, specifically, with uranium centrifuge. Attacks such as these, albeit more or less sophisticated, continue and will increase in 2011, even though many of them will go unnoticed by the general public.
Cyber protests: Cyber-protests, or hacktivism, will continue to grow in frequency. This new movement started with the Anonymous group and Operation Payback, targeting organizations trying to close the net on Internet piracy, and later in support of Julian Assange, editor-in-chief of WikiLeaks. Even users with limited technical know-how can join in the DDoS or spam campaigns.
Despite hasty attempts in countries to pass legislation to counter this type of activity effectively by criminalizing it, PandaLabs believes next year there will be more cyber-protests, organized by this group or others that will begin to emerge.
Social engineering: Cyber-criminals have found social media sites to be their perfect working environment, as users are even more trusting with these than with other types of tools, such as email.
Throughout this year, PandaLabs witnessed various attacks that used the two most popular social networks Facebook and Twitter as launching pads. Next year will see hackers continue to use these networks, but they will also use them for distributed attacks.
BlackHat SEO attacks will also be widely employed throughout 2011, as always, taking advantage of hot topics to reach as many users as possible. In addition, a significant amount of malware will disguise as plug-ins, media players and other similar applications.
Windows 7 influencing malware development: It will take at least two years before there is a proliferation of threats designed specifically for Windows 7. In 2010, PandaLabs saw a shift in this direction, and next year new cases of malware targeting users of this new operating system will continue to emerge.
Mobile phones: Next year there will be new attacks on mobile phones, but it will not be on a massive scale. Most of the existing threats target devices with Symbian, an operating system which is now on the wane. Of the emerging systems, PandaLabs predicts that the threats for Android will increase considerably throughout the year, becoming the number one mobile target for cyber crooks.
Mac: And as the market share of Mac users continues to grow, the number of threats will grow. The greatest concern is the number of security holes in the Apple operating system.
HTML5: HTML5 is the perfect target for criminals and could eventually replace Flash. Browsers can run it without any plug-ins, making it even more attractive to find a security hole a hacker can exploit to attack users regardless of which browser they use. PandaLabs expects to see the first attacks on HTML5 in the coming months.
Highly dynamic and encrypted threats: Dynamic and encrypted threats will increase in 2011. PandaLabs is receiving more and more encrypted, stealth threats designed to connect to a server and update themselves before security companies can detect them. There are also more threats that target specific users, particularly companies, as information stolen from businesses will fetch a higher price on the black market.