New tactics, new dangers

Cybercrime is on the rise, and what’s more the criminals are fast moving to non-PC devices and unsecured parts of the network.

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By  Sathya Mithra Ashok Published  April 25, 2007

Cybercrime is on the rise, and what’s more the criminals are fast moving to non-PC devices and unsecured parts of the network. In the second issue of the Global Threat Report, McAfee researchers state that while the crimes themselves are not likely to change much, the mechanisms used to carry out such attacks will evolve to use other technologies. “The security research being done today uncovers clues to the types of attacks that are likely to become commonplace tomorrow. And today’s infrequent attacks can easily turn into tomorrow’s epidemic,” states the report. The statement continues that some of the major threats coming our way, as digital offenders look beyond the PC, include mobile spam, spoofed VoIP phishing and the infiltration of RFID technology. McAfee predicts that the growing smartphone market – which is expected to exceed US$250 billion by 2011 – is too lucrative for cyber thieves to ignore. Greater adoption of these devices, coupled with more users accessing personal and financial data on the phones, will lead to increased phishing attacks, spyware and identity theft. Mobile spam also has the potential to explode as spam and Trojan authors develop mobile malware. The report maintains that mobile network operators must adopt risk management measures to stay on top of these developments—not only to prevent costly disruptions but also to enable their environments for new, more secure services. VoIP – the revenues of which will touch US$20 billion in 2009 according to Infonetics Research – is another ripe messaging medium for spam. Spam over Internet Telephony (SPIT) is predicted to increase as VoIP allows spammers not only to place large volume of calls, virtually for free, but also to forge them. Spoofed VoIP phishing attacks will likely be more successful than their e-mail counterparts, because anti-SPIT technology is far behind that of antispam. In addition to these social engineering attacks, the VoIP technology itself is vulnerable to eavesdropping, recording, and hijacking, which means that attackers can capture confidential information, such as account and PIN numbers as well as personal conversations. Another emerging technology that poses a significant risk to privacy, as per McAfee’s research, is radio frequency identifications (RFID). Current RFID technology is vulnerable to eavesdropping, recording, cloning, and forgery. RFID readers could contain vulnerabilities that would allow RFID chips to contain exploits to steal information from backend databases. As RFID becomes more widely adopted by corporations and countries for tracking and identifying people and assets, these elements could become prime ground for new-age intruders, adds McAfee’s report.

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