Intel-owned online security company McAfee Labs has published its Predictions Report for 2014, using trends from 2013 to forecast the type of online threats anticipated next year.
The company says it expects the mobile platform to “draw the lion’s share of threat innovation” in 2014. Ransomware - taking control of a user’s device and asking for payment - is expected to become an increasing threat to mobile users, as are sophisticated attacks that can bypass some security measures. We’re also expected to see social platforms being used more aggressively to target personal and corporate information.
In total, McAfee Labs is expecting seven major online security trends in 2014:
1. Mobile malware will drive growth in technical innovation and the volume of attacks in the overall malware ‘market’ in 2014. In particular, we’re expected to see ransomware aimed at mobile devices, attacks targeting near-field communications (NFC) vulnerabilities and attacks that steal data from legitimate apps.
2. Virtual currencies, such as Bitcoin, will inspire malicious ransomware attacks around the world as these currencies can be transferred anonymously.
3. Criminal gangs (and potentially government agencies) will deploy new ‘stealth’ attacks that are harder than ever to identify and stop. For example, ‘sandbox-aware’ attacks can avoid detection by not fully deploying unless they believe they are running on an unprotected device.
4. Social platforms and social networks will be attacked to capture passwords or other data. This information can then be used to target advertising or perpetrate virtual or real-world crimes.
5. New PC and server attacks will target vulnerabilities above and below the operating system, while mobile attacks are expected to give attackers direct access to the device and its services.
6. Security vendors will use ‘big data’ to add new threat-reputation services and analytics tools that will enable users to identify threats faster and more accurately than can be done today.
7. Cyber criminals will attack cloud-based corporate applications, which could be a particular threat to smaller businesses that lack sufficient leverage to demand adequate security measures from their service provider.
Vincent Weafer, senior vice president of McAfee Labs, said “With target audiences so large, financing mechanisms so convenient, and cyber-talent so accessible, robust innovation in criminal technology and tactics will continue its surge forward in 2014. The activity in mobile and social is representative of an increasing ‘black hat’ focus on the fastest growing and most digitally active consumer audiences, in which personal information is almost as attractive as banking passwords. The emergence and evolution of advanced evasion techniques represents a new enterprise security battlefront, where the hacker’s deep knowledge of architectures and common security tactics enable attacks that are very hard to uncover.”
[McAfee 2014 Predictions Report (pdf)]