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Cybersecurity predictions for 2013

16 Nov 2012

From mass compromises of Wordpress to a spear-phishing attack on the White House, there is no doubt cybercriminals gained confidence and momentum in 2012.

To help organisations prepare for next year, Websense Security Labs has revealed seven predictions for the 2013 threat landscape.

Highlights include:

1. Mobile devices will be the new target for cross-platform threats

The top three mobile platforms cybercriminals will target are Windows 8, Android and iOS.

Web-based cross platform exploits will make it easier. In 2013, threats to Microsoft mobile devices will see the highest rate of growth.

Cybercriminals are similar to legitimate application developers in that they focus on the most profitable platforms.

As development barriers are removed, mobile threats will be able to leverage a huge library of shared code.

Attacks will also continue to increasingly use social engineering lures to capture user credentials on mobile devices.

2. Cybercriminals will use bypass methods to avoid traditional sandbox detection

More organisations are utilising virtual machine defences to test for malware and threats. As a result, attackers are taking new steps to avoid detection by recognising virtual machine environments.

Some potential methods will attempt to identify a security sandbox, just as past attacks targeted specific AV engines and turned them off. These advanced attacks will remain hidden until they are sure they aren’t in a virtual security environment.

3. Legitimate mobile app stores will host more malware in 2013

Malicious apps will increasingly slip through validation processes. They will continue to pose risks to organisations enabling bring your own device (BYOD) policies.

In addition, jail-broken/rooted devices and non-sanctioned app stores will pose significant risk to enterprises as more allow BYOD.

4. Government-sponsored attacks will increase as new players enter

Expect more governments to enter the cyber-warfare arena. In the wake of several publicised cyber-warfare events, there are a number of contributing factors that will drive more countries toward these strategies and tactics.

While the effort to become another nuclear superpower may be insurmountable, almost any country can draft the talent and resources to craft cyber-weapons.

Countries and individual cybercriminals all have access to the blueprints for previous state-sponsored attacks like Stuxnet, Flame and Shamoon.

5. Expect hacktivists to move to the next level as simplistic opportunities dwindle

Driven by highly publicised hacktivist events in recent years, organisations have deployed increasingly better detection and prevention policies, solutions and strategies. Hacktivists will move to the next level by increasing their sophistication.

6. Malicious emails are making a comeback

Timed and targeted spear-phishing email attacks, along with an increase in malicious email attachments, are providing new opportunities for cybercrime. Malicious email will make a comeback.

Domain generation algorithms will also bypass current security to increase the effectiveness of targeted attacks.

7. Cybercriminals will follow the crowds to legitimate content management systems and web platforms

Vulnerabilities in Wordpress have frequently been exploited with mass compromises. As other content management systems (CMS) and service platforms increase in popularity, the bad guys will routinely test the integrity of these systems.

Attacks will continue to exploit legitimate web platforms, requiring CMS administrators to pay greater attention to updates, patches, and other security measures.

Cybercriminals compromise these platforms to host their malware, infect users and invade organisations to steal data.

“The past year illustrated how quickly the threat landscape continues to evolve, with attacks and exploits redefining the concepts of crime, business espionage and warfare," says Charles Renert, vice president of Websense Security Labs, Websense.

"The risk to organisations continues to be amplified by the frailty of human curiosity.

"It’s now expanding across diverse mobile platforms, evolving content management systems and an ever-increasing population of online users.

"2013 will absolutely reinforce the fact that traditional security measures are no longer effective in thwarting advanced cyberattacks.

"Organisations and security providers need to evolve toward more proactive real-time defences that stop advanced threats and data theft.”

The full report can be found here

What do you predict will threaten cyber security in 2013? Tell us your thoughts below