Top 10 information security threats for 2010

“The start of a new year is a great time for companies to evaluate their information security practices and begin thinking about what threats they’ll be facing in the coming year,” said Kevin Prince, CTO, Perimeter E-Security. “As these security threats are becoming more serious and difficult to detect, it is vital for companies to understand what they can do to best protect their systems and information.

Top 10 information security threats for 2010 according to Perimeter E-Security:

1. Malware

Last year, Malware was listed as the second highest ranked threat to organizations on Perimeter E-Security’s list of top threats. There are many methods to install malware on systems, including the use of client-side software vulnerabilities. Browsers remain a top target for vulnerabilities. In 2009, the FBI reported that for the first time ever, revenue from cybercrime had exceeded drug trafficking, estimated at taking in more than one billion annually in profits.

2. Malicious insiders

Malicious insiders were listed as the top threat for 2009, but have fallen to the #2 spot for 2010. With the downturn in the economy last year, it was no surprise that many desperate and disgruntled employees attempted to exploit the companies they currently or previously worked for. There is no way to eliminate the threat of malicious insiders completely, but through good security policies and followed procedures, the incidents could be a fraction of what they are today. With the economy still suffering and still high unemployment levels, Malicious Insiders will continue to be a threat.

3. Exploited vulnerabilities

Vulnerability exploit is at the heart of hacking and data breaches. Worms, viruses, malware, and a host of other attack types often rely on vulnerability exploit to infect, spread and perform the actions cyber criminals want. And yet, organizations are still not doing what they need to for patch management. Hackers are more often exploiting client side vulnerabilities and other vulnerabilities associated with 3rd party applications.

4. Careless employees

Careless and untrained insiders will continue to be a very serious threat to organizations in 2010. Insiders can be broken down into three categories: careless & untrained employees, employees that are duped or fall prey to social engineering type attacks, and malicious employees. Protecting a network and critical and sensitive data is done very differently for each type. Policies, procedures, training and a little technology can make a world of difference in reducing an organization’s risk to careless insiders.

5. Mobile devices

Mobile devices have become a plague for information security professionals. There are worms and other malware that specifically target these devices such as the iPhone worm that would steal banking data and enlist these devices in a botnet. Theft is still a major cause of data breaches as mobile devices, especially laptops, are the main culprits. Tens of thousands of laptops are stolen each year and often these have sensitive data that require public disclosure as a data breach.

6. Social networking

Social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and others have changed the way people communicate with each other, but these sites can pose serious threats to organizations. One main problem is that there is a trust component to these sites which makes them fertile ground for identity thieves. There is also a personal safety issue. Social networking sites are a stalker’s dream come true. Social networking sites are breeding grounds for SPAM, scams, scareware and a host of other attacks and these threats will continue to rise.

7. Social engineering

Social engineering is always a popular tool used by cyber criminals and phishing is still a popular method for doing just that. In fact, these new venues make social engineering even more effective. This year will have an added measure of complexity when it comes to social engineering attacks. Beginning sometime mid-2010, domain names will be expanded to include Japanese, Arabic, Hindi and even Greek characters, and with all of these characters being available for domain names, no longer will looking at a domain help one determine if it’s legitimate or not.

8. Zero-day exploits

Zero-day exploits are when an attacker can compromise a system based on a known vulnerability but no patch or fix exists, and they have become a very serious threat to information security. Zero-day vulnerabilities are being discovered in traditionally very secure protocols such as SSL and TLS. The zero-day vulnerability could also be in providers.

9. Cloud computing security threats

Using cloud based (i.e. Internet based) applications may not be as secure as once thought with many stories in 2009 regarding cloud based security issues. Many are calling for forced encryption to access “in the cloud” services. As cloud computing grows in popularity over the next few years, cloud security will become a very big issue.

10. Cyber espionage

Cyberespionage is a threat that’s being heard more and more all the time and there have been a flood of stories in 2009 on this subject. Most of these incidents surround government bodies and agencies and therefore have not been a huge threat to most individual organizations. However, since cyber espionage has major implications for the government, it is a rising threat that must be closely monitored.

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