Security trends coming in 2010

Websense released its list of security predictions and trends anticipated for 2010. The emerging trends and predictions show an overall blending of security threats across multiple attack vectors for the purpose of roping computers into bot networks and stealing valuable confidential information.

In 2010, we can expect the emergence and growth of the following trends:

1. Web 2.0 attacks will increase in sophistication and prevalence
In the coming year, we can expect a greater volume of spam and attacks on the social Web and real-time search engines such as, Google and In 2009, researchers have seen increased malicious use of social networks and collaboration tools such as Facebook, Twitter, MySpace and Google Wave to spread attackers’ wares. Spammers’ and hackers’ use of Web 2.0 sites have been successful because of the high level of trust users place in the platforms and the other users.

2. Botnet gangs will fight turf wars
In the past year, there’s been an increase in botnet groups following each other and using similar spam/Web campaigns tactics such as fake DHL and USPS notifications and other copy-cat behavior. We expect this to continue in 2010. In addition, we anticipate more aggressive behavior between different botnet groups including bots with the ability to detect and actively uninstall competitor bots.

3. Email gains traction again as a top vector for malicious attacks
In 2010, email used as a vector for spreading malicious attacks will evolve in sophistication. Attackers are more often using timely topics to lure recipients to open mail, attachments and click on malicious links. Not only are more emails containing malicious attachments, researchers also have seen increased sophistication of blended attacks that are difficult to close down. During 2010, this trend will continue and we will see more emails containing a malicious data stealing attachments and malicious URLs.

4. Targeted attacks on Microsoft properties, including Windows 7 and IE 8
We will see more malicious attacks targeting the Windows 7 with specific tricks to bypass User Access Control warnings, and greater exploitation of Internet Explorer 8. While Windows 7 tries to reduce the pop-ups by allowing four levels of User Access Control, security challenges to the interface and the operating system still exist. In fact, during a Patch Tuesday cycle in October 2009, five updates were for Windows 7 – even before it was released to the general public.

5. Don’t trust your search results
In the last year, attackers have used Blackhat SEO attacks to poison search results on everything from MTV VMA awards and Google Wave invites, to iPhone SMS features and Labor Day sales. SEO poisoning attacks are successful because as soon as a malicious campaign is recognized and removed from search results, the attackers simply redirect their botnets to a new, timely search term. These ongoing campaigns are likely to gain steam in 2010 and may cause a trust issue in search results among consumers, unless the search providers change the way they document and present links.

6. Smartphones are hackers’ next playground
At the end of 2009 there were four iPhone exploits in a span of a few weeks—representing the first major attacks on the iPhone platform and the first iPhone data-stealing malware with bot functionality. With a rapidly growing user base, business adoption and increasing use for conducting financial transactions with these devices, attackers will begin more dedicated targeting of smartphones in 2010.

7. Why corrupt a banner ad serve, when you can buy malvertising space?
In a high-profile incident in 2009, visitors to the New York Times Web site saw a pop-up box warning them of a virus that directed them to an offer for antivirus software, which was actually rogue AV. This attack was served up through an advertisement purchased by someone posing as a national advertiser. The successful attack was a worthwhile investment for the criminals and so in 2010 more malicious ads will be legitimately purchased by the bad guys.

8. 2010 will prove Macs are not immune to exploits
Macs are immune to security threats and therefore employ less security measures and patches, so attackers have additional incentive to go after the OS X platform. During 2009, Apple released six large security updates for Macs showing the potential for attacks. In 2010, there will be even more security updates as hackers ramp up attacks targeting the platform. There is also the potential for the first drive-by malware created to target Apple’s Safari browser.

The dynamic nature of Web 2.0 attacks, the use of email to drive users to malicious Web sites, and tactics like SEO poisoning and rogue AV all demonstrate the need for organizations to have a unified content security platform that protects against blended Web, email and data security threats.

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