McAfee predicts emerging threats of 2011

McAfee predicts emerging threats of 2011

McAfee Inc. on Tuesday unveiled its 2011 Threat Predictions report, outlining top threats its researchers foresee for the coming year from a list that includes location-based services, Android and iPhone.

Santa Clara-based McAfee (NYSE:MFE) said Mountain View-based Google‘s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android and Google TV are expected to become major targets for cybercriminals. Also on the list are Cupertino-based Apple Inc.‘s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone and Mac OS X platform.

Social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook have created the movement toward an “instant” form of communication, a shift that McAfee said will completely alter the threat landscape in 2011. Of the social media sites that will be most riddled with
Read more: McAfee predicts emerging threats of 2011 | Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal

cybercriminal activity, McAfee Labs 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,” McAfee said.

Locative services such as foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook Places can search, track and plot the whereabouts of friends and strangers. “In just a few clicks, cybercriminals can see in real time who is tweeting, where they are located, what they are saying, what their interests are, and what operating systems and applications they are using. This wealth of personal information on individuals enables cybercriminals to craft a targeted attack,” according to the report.

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 company said.

Historically, the Mac OS platform has remained relatively unscathed by attackers, but McAfee Labs warns that Mac-targeted malware will continue to increase in sophistication in 2011. “The popularity of iPads and iPhones in business environments, combined with the lack of user understanding of proper security for these devices, will increase the risk for data and identity exposure, and will make Apple botnets and Trojans a common occurrence,” the report said.

McAfee Labs expects an increasing number of suspicious and malicious apps for the most widely deployed media platforms, such as Google TV. These apps will target or expose privacy and identity data, and will allow cybercriminals to manipulate a variety of physical devices through compromised or controlled apps, eventually raising the effectiveness of botnets.

Malicious content disguised as personal or legitimate e-mails and files to trick unsuspecting victims will increase in sophistication in 2011. “Signed” malware that imitates legitimate files will become more prevalent, and “friendly fire,” in which threats appear to come from your friends but in fact are viruses such as Koobface or VBMania, will continue to grow as an attack of choice by cybercriminals, the report said.

McAfee also expects to see significant botnet activity in the adoption of data-gathering and data-removal functionality, rather than the common use of sending spam.

More groups will repeat the WikiLeaks example, “as hacktivism is conducted by people claiming to be independent of any particular government or movement, and will become more organized and strategic by incorporating social networks in the process. McAfee Labs believes hacktivism will become the new way to demonstrate political positions in 2011 and beyond,” the report said.

Read more: McAfee predicts emerging threats of 2011 | Silicon Valley / San Jose Business Journal

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