McAfee predicts rise in ID attacks

Identity theft and increased spam for 2007, vendor claims

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By  Published  December 16, 2006

An increase in the number of password-stealing web sites and a rise in the volume of spam will be among the top ten security threats for 2007, according to security vendor McAfee.

Next year will see more attacks that attempt to capture a user’s ID and password by displaying fake sign-in pages, according to the predictions from McAfee Avert Labs.

There will also be an increased targeting of popular online services such as eBay and in the number of attacks seeking to exploit people’s willingness to help others in need, the vendor said, as evidenced by the number of phishing attacks that occurred after Hurricane Katrina.

Attacks on internet service providers (ISPs) are expected to decline, however, while those aimed at the financial sector will remain steady.

Spam, particularly image spam, is also on the rise, according to McAfee. Image spam now accounts for up to 40% of the total spam received, the vendor said, compared to less than 10% a year ago.

“Within a short period of time, computers have become an intrinsic and essential part of everyday life, and as a result there is huge potential for monetary gains by malware writers,” said Patrick Hayati, regional director McAfee Middle East.

“As we see sophisticated techniques on the rise, it’s becoming increasingly hard for the general user base to identify or avoid malware infections,” he added.

Other security threats predicted by McAfee to be big hitters in 2007 include the use of bots, computer programs that perform automated tasks, which will increase as a tool favoured by hackers; an increase in the number of rootkits on 32-bit platforms; and vulnerabilities.

Parasitic malware, or viruses that modify existing files on a disk, will also make a comeback in 2007, McAfee predicted.

But it is not just computers that are at risk, mobile phone attacks will also become more prevalent, the vendor claimed, as mobile devices become more sophisticated and more connected.

With increased connectivity through BlueTooth, SMS, instant messaging (IM), e-mail, Wi-Fi, USB, audio, video and Web, there are more possibilities for cross device contamination, the company noted.

McAfee said that it had witnessed a number of efforts in 2006 by mobile malware authors to achieve PC-to-phone and phone-to-PC infection vectors; it expects activities to increase in 2007.

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