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The Next Wave | Vol. 19 | No. 2 | 2012

Cybercrime landscape

The "Norton by Symantec cybercrime report 2011" revealed the following statistics based on surveys conducted between February 6, 2011 and March 14, 2011 of 19,636 individuals (including children) from 24 countries:a

    69% of online adults have been a victim of cybercrime in their lifetime.

    $388 billion is spent on cybercrime every year when combined with the value of victims' lost time.

    10% of online adults have experienced cybercrime on their mobile device.

    1 million people become victims of cybercrime everyday.

    $114 billion is spent on cybercrime—money stolen by cybercriminals and spent on resolving cyberattacks—every year

    54% of online adults have experienced computer viruses or malware—the most common type of cybercrime.

Top cybercrime: Malware

The "McAfee threats report: Second quarter 2011" found the following malware trends:b

    Malware has increased 22 percent from 2010 to 2011.

    By the end of 2011, McAfee Labs expects to have 75 million samples of malware.

    Fake antivirus software continues to grow and has even begun to climb aboard a new platform—the Mac.

    For-profit mobile malware has increased, including simple short message service (SMS)-sending Trojans and complex Trojans that use exploits to compromise smartphones.

    Android is becoming the third-most targeted platform for mobile malware.

    Rootkits, also known as "stealth malware," are growing in popularity. A rootkit is code that hides malware from operating systems and security software.

Mobile malware

The IBM X-Force's "2011 Mid-year trend and risk report" evidences that mobile malware is on the rise.c Their report highlights the following points:

    The first half of 2011 saw an increased level of malware activity targeting the latest generation of smart devices, and the increased number of vulnerability disclosures and exploit releases targeting mobile platforms seen in 2010 continues into 2011, showing no signs of slowing down.

    Mobile devices are quickly becoming a malware platform of choice. This malware increase is based on premium SMS services that can charge users, a rapidly increasing rate of user adoption, and unpatched vulnerabilities on the devices.

    Two popular methods of malware distribution models are to create infected versions of existing market software and to publish software that claims to be a crack, patch, or cheat for some other software.

    Besides sending SMS messages, Android malware has been observed collecting personal data from the phone and sending it back to a central server. This information could be used in phishing attacks or for identity theft. We have also seen Android malware that has the ability to be remotely controlled by a remote command and control server—just like a bot that infects a Windows desktop machine.

    Enterprise security management of mobile endpoint devices will struggle to handle massive expansion. One solution may be the convergence of endpoint security configuration management to incorporate all these new devices.

Emerging cybersecurity threats

The Georgia Institute of Technology's Cyber Security Summit on October 11, 2011 resulted in the "Emerging cyber threats report 2012."d The key points include the following:

Mobile threats

    Mobile applications rely increasingly on the browser, presenting unique challenges to security in terms of usability and scale.

    Expect compound threats targeting mobile devices to use SMS, email and the mobile Web browser to launch an attack, then silently record and steal data.

    While USB flash drives have long been recognized for their ability to spread malware, mobile phones are becoming a new vector that could introduce attacks on otherwise-protected systems.

    Encapsulation and encryption for sensitive portions of a mobile device can strengthen security.


    Botnet controllers build massive information profiles on their compromised users and sell the data to the highest bidder.

    Advanced persistent adversaries query botnet operators in search of already compromised machines belonging to their attack targets.

    Bad guys will borrow techniques from Black Hat Search Engine Optimization to deceive current botnet defenses like dynamic reputation systems.

Information security

    Security researchers are currently debating whether personalization online could become a form of censorship.

    Attackers are performing search engine optimization to help their malicious sites rank highly in search results.

    The trend in compromised certificate authorities exposes numerous weaknesses in the overall trust model for the Internet.

Advanced persistent threats

    Advanced persistent threats will adapt to security measures until malicious objectives are achieved.

    Human error, lack of user education, and weak passwords are still major vulnerabilities.

    Cloud computing and computer hardware may present new avenues of attack, with all malware moving down the stack.

    Large, flat networks with perimeter defenses at the Internet ingress/egress point break down quickly in the face of advanced persistent threats.


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Date Posted: Jan 15, 2009 | Last Modified: May 9, 2012 | Last Reviewed: May 9, 2012