2014 Threat Predictions

Every year McAfee releases a threat prediction report.  As a former IT Admin, these always peak my interest.  Security is one of the most important and talked about trends right now, and for good reason.  Security breaches at major retailers happen every month, most recently large ones at Target and Michaels stores.  Physical stores haven’t been the only target, as online services such as Playstation Network and Dropbox have been targets of multiple attacks.  In many cases, these breaches in security lead to the loss of credit card numbers, personal information, and usernames and passwords.

In 2014 many new threats will approach us.  As new devices release and new technology develops, we are likely to come across new threats to our personal information.

  1.  Mobile Malware Will Lead Malware Attacks – In 2013, Malware attacks on the Android platform grew by 33%.  This trend is expected to continue growing throughout 2014.  This is due to the large amount of unprotected and unsecured mobile devices  on the market.  Most PC’s are protected by some sort of anti-virus or anti-malware, but many mobile devices like tablets or smartphones are lacking this protection.  They are however holding just as sensitive of information as the PC, so protecting them should be a priority.
  2. Bitcoin Robbery and Ransomware – Virtual currency has become a very real investment in the last year.  It has also become a very real target for hackers and cyber criminals.  Ransomware attacks from software like “Cryptolocker” encrypt your files, and demand payment in untraceable Bitcoins before it will release them.  Bitcoin storage sites also have been hacked and had thousands of bitcoins stolen, translating into even more in US dollars.
  3. Cyberterrorism and “Hacktivists” – These events will continue to grow throughout the year as more groups try to use the net to promote their beliefs and ideas.  It is likely we will see large corporations and sites hacked and abused to spread messages of love, hate, revenge, justice, and simple immaturity.
  4. Social Media Breeding Grounds – Social Media sites will become the main breeding ground for sharing malware and stealing personal information.  Email use to be the primary delivery system, but social networks like Facebook, Google +, and Yahoo are quickly becoming the easiest way to spread malware between users and steal information.  Other threats also exist on social networks, including “false flag” attacks which track users into providing account information.  This account information is used to then gain personal info, and even present urgent requests to the victim’s friends for cash aid.  However cybercriminals just need to appear to be you to pull this off.  Facebook estimates 50-100 million of its active monthly users are duplicate profiles, and another 14 million are what they deem “undesirable” profiles.
  5. OS Won’t Be The Target – McAfee suggests that malware attacks on the operating system will be a thing of the past.  Instead they will be focusing on the BIOS, and higher functions like HTML 5.
  6. Cloud Based Targets – Cloud technologies will open lots of new targets for cybercriminals.  Why would they hack one company’s site when they can attack one cloud based app storing 100 companies data?  This will create an extreme need for security and security experts in the cloud computing fields.