CIO Symmetry

Oct 17 2008   2:11PM GMT

2009 cybersecurity threats revealed – wah waaah

Kristen Caretta Kristen Caretta Profile: Kristen Caretta

You know that new iPhone you got? Or the Android order you put in? Well, not to get all Debbie Downer on you, but your sexy smartphone is a security threat.

The Georgia Tech Information Security Center (GTISC) announced the release of the Emerging Cyber Threats Report for 2009. A big help in our overall awareness and protection, the report outlines security concerns and risks for consumer and enterprise Internet users. So what’s your mobile device got to do with it? Cell phones will become members of botnets.

In the GTISC report, Patrick Traynor, an assistant professor of computer science at Georgia Tech and member of the GTISC, delves into the “digital wallet” smartphone concept (smartphones store personal identity and payment information). He says smartphones will be injected with malware — when this happens, “large cellular botnets could then be used to perpetrate a DoS attack against the core of the cellular network.” The good news? Traynor goes on to say it will provide an opportunity to design security properly for the quickly evolving mobile communications sector.

The overall threat areas to be aware of, according to the report, are malware, botnets, cyberwarfare, threats to VoIP and mobile devices and the evolution of the cybercrime economy. The driving force behind all the attacks? The data.

The cybercrime community (a mafia of sorts, if you will) will be utilizing our recent advancements in social networking to cloak malcode. One example given in the report: Facebook wall links posted by a friend prompting users to install Flash Player updates. When the unaware user clicks to install the update, a piece of malware is installed on the machine. And just like that, the computer is involved in a botnet.

Other stats to be aware of? Botnets have become worse in 2008 and GTISC researchers estimate 15% of online computers will be botnet-affected this year. Cyberwarfare and attempts to “subvert the US economy and infrastructure” will accompany military interaction more often. And the already vulnerable VoIP? Cybercriminals will look to engage in voice fraud, data theft and other scams.

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