4 security predictions for 2011

Security & Privacy

History is happening fast. 25 years after the first PC virus, computer security and social media are playing a starring role in breaking news all over the globe. Recently F-Secure Labs took a look back at the year 2010 in security. They also came up with a few predictions for the rest of this year.

Don’t worry. Skynet and its slave army of computers will be taking over in the next eleven months. Computer security is constantly improving and evolving to face new threats. We share these predictions in hopes of avoiding the worst. By keeping up with the evolving threats, you’ll know what you need to do to secure your digital life.

1. More attacks on older versions of Windows
With a PC that’s running an updated version of Windows 7 and Mac OSX, your computer security is pretty strong. “However that’s not what the world is running,” says Mikko Hypponen, Chief Research Officer at F-Secure.

“The most common OS used by computers anywhere in the world right now is Windows XP. And the security level of Windows XP isn’t very good at all.” Updated software with patched vulnerabilities is crucial for security. In fact, the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico could have been caused in part by the failure of computers that were still using Windows NT 4 from 1996.

You can make sure your PC is patched and protected with our free Health Check.

2. Copycat attacks based on Stuxnet
Stuxnet may be the most significant malware development of the last decade. Just last week a Russian official said that he thought that Stuxnet is so dangerous that it could cause a new Chernobyl. “Stuxnet can attack factory systems and alter automation processes, therefore making cyber sabotage a reality by causing actual real-world damage,” says Mikko Hypponen.

Now that the proverbial cat is out of the bag, similar attacks can be engineered with less effort. “Unfortunately, it’s likely that we will see Stuxnet copycats in the future,” says Hyponnen. For more information on Stuxnet, visit the F-Secure Labs Blog.

3. More mobile malware targeting the Android platform and jailbroken iPhones.
Android apps do not go through an approval process like those required by the iPhone App Store or the Signed by Symbian programs.

In 2010, we saw Android apps that posed as games while spying on users, apps posed as banking apps with no official connection to the banks and apps that attempted to steal users banking credentials. In 2011, the assault on Android phones by individuals with an excellent understanding of mobile applications and social engineering will only get worse.

Jailbroken iPhones also present a unique opportunity for malware writers.

F-Secure does not recommend jailbreaking any device for any reason. The only iPhone worms we’ve seen so far only infected jailbroken devices and we expect that trend to continue or get worse in 2011.

“If a worm infect your iPhone, it could do anything you can do on your phone, and more. So it could destroy or steal all of your data. Track your location. Spam your friends. Listen to your phone calls. Dial the presidents of every country in the world. Anything. And you would pay for all the charges it would create, too,” says Hypponen.

4. Facebook spam goes global
Amidst news that global email spam levels have fallen suddenly, there has been explosion of spam on social networks. Spam has become so prevalent that many Facebook users in United States and the United Kingdom have begun to ignore it.

“What do you do when English speakers are increasing desensitized towards Facebook spam? Language localization,” says Hypponen.

F-Secure Labs has already seen Facebook spam runs localized into Finnish along with runs that were popular in Sweden and Malaysia. As Facebook increases its anti-spam efforts, expect to see the spammers change their tactics and targets.



CC image by Kenny Louie

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