Targeted Attacks, Cyber Warfare, Mobile Threats: What to Expect in 2012
Governments and large corporations all over the world should be wary of a growing cyber menace in 2012, according to experts at Kaspersky Lab. Not only will there be a dramatic increase in the number of targeted attacks on state institutions and large companies, it is also likely that a wider range of organizations will bear the brunt of the expected onslaught. “At the moment, the majority of incidents affect companies and state organizations involved in arms manufacturing, financial operations, or hi-tech and scientific research activities. In 2012 companies in the natural resource extraction, energy, transport, food and pharmaceutical industries will be affected, as well as Internet services and information security companies,” warns Alexander Gostev, the author of the report ‘Cyberthreat Forecast for 2012’. Attacks will range over more of the world than ever before, spreading beyond Western Europe and the US and affecting Eastern Europe, the Middle East and South-East Asia.
Kaspersky Lab experts predict that attackers will have to change their methods in response to the growing competition among the IT security companies that investigate and protect against targeted attacks. Increased public attention to security lapses will also force the attackers to search for new instruments. The conventional method of attacks that involve email attachments with vulnerability exploits will gradually become less effective, while browser attacks will gain in popularity.
The Kaspersky Lab forecast goes on state that hacktivist attacks on state organizations and businesses will continue in 2012 and will have a predominantly political agenda. Alexander Gostev believes this will be an important trend when compared to similar attacks in 2011. However, hacktivism could well be used as a diversionary tactic to conceal other types of attacks.
Hi-tech malicious programs such as Stuxnet and Duqu created with state support will remain unique phenomena. Their emergence will be dictated by international tensions between specific countries. In Alexander Gostev’s view, the cyber conflicts in 2012 will revolve around traditional confrontations: the US and Israel versus Iran, and the US and Western Europe versus China. More basic weapons designed to destroy data at a given time, such as kill switches, logic bombs etc. will become more popular as they are easier to manufacture. The creation of these programs can be outsourced to private contractors used by the military or other government agencies. In many cases the contractor may not be aware of the customer’s aims.
In terms of mobile threats in 2012, Kaspersky Lab expects to see Google Android continue to be the target of choice for the mobile malware market as well as an increase in the numbers of attacks that exploit vulnerabilities. The emergence of the first mobile drive-by attacks and mobile botnets are also forecast. Mobile espionage will become widespread and will most probably include data theft from mobile phones and the tracking of people using their telephones and geolocation services.
The full version of the article ‘Cyberthreat Forecast for 2012’ can be downloaded at: www.kaspersky.com