With the growing diversity of operating systems among companies, as well as the growing use of mobile devices, cybercriminals should have a very profitable 2011.
Their tactic will be to put a new spin on social engineering by way of “malware campaigns,” by bombarding recipients with email that drop downloaders containing malware. All this will largely be made possible because of the Internet. Already, Trend Micro threat researchers have found that more than 80 percent of the top malware use the web to arrive on users’ systems.
2011 will bring about a growth in exploits for alternative operating systems, programs and web browsers, combined with tremendous growth in the use of application vulnerabilities.
Cloud computing and virtualization – while offering significant benefits and cost-savings – move servers outside the traditional security perimeter and expand the playing field for cybercriminals and increases security demands on cloud service providers.
Trend Micro expects more proof of concept attacks against cloud infrastructure and virtualized systems to show up in 2011. Knowing that the desktop monoculture will disappear, cybercriminals will test how to successfully infiltrate and misuse a monoculture in the cloud.
Targeted attacks on “unpatchable” (but widely used) legacy systems like Windows 2000/Windows XP SP2 will continue to proliferate.
It’s all about social engineering
Social engineering will continue to play a big role in the propagation of threats. In 2011 there will be fewer infiltrated websites; instead cybercriminals will focus on malware campaigns, the promotion of malware through cleverly designed e-mails convincing users to click on a link that will ultimately lead to a malicious downloader. The downloader then randomly generates binaries to avoid detection, as Conficker and ZeuS-LICAT have done in the past.
Thanks to easy-to-use underground toolkits, mid-sized companies will be targeted in cyber-espionage. In 2010, the use of underground toolkits exploded, making it easier to target particular types of organizations. ZeuS primarily targeted small businesses in 2010. Moving forward, localized and targeted attacks are expected to continue to grow in number and sophistication both against big name brands and/or critical infrastructure.
In 2011, it is very likely that cybercriminals will increasingly target security vendors’ brands in order to cause confusion and insecurity among users.
More key forecasts for 2011 and beyond:
- It’s all about money, so cybercrime will not go away.
- There will be an increase use of stolen or legitimate digital certificates in malware attacks, to avoid detection.
- Further consolidation will happen in the cybercrime underground as groups merge and/or join forces as global and public attention for cyber attacks will grow.
- Some security vendors will run into trouble with their inability to store all the threat information with local signatures. They will retire old signatures which will lead to infections from old/outdated malware.
- More proof of concept and some successful attacks on mobile devices will occur.