By: Emma Kavanagh
Cybercrime is a big industry that keeps getting bigger. In its 2012 report on cybercrime, Norton estimated there were more than 556 million consumer victims annually worldwide. That number is greater than the population of the entire European Union. The global cost of cybercrime on the consumer level tops $110 billion annually, according to Norton. Those figures don’t take into account attacks on businesses and other organizations.
As the size of the cybercrime problem and its costs continue to rise, Internet security has become a top concern for individuals and businesses alike. While the bad guys scramble to find new and more creative ways to part victims from their personal information and money in the online arena, the good guys work to thwart them.
With that in mind, here’s a look at the Top 10 Internet security trends in 2013. By understanding where companies that dedicate themselves to thwarting Internet-related crime are focusing their attentions, consumers and businesses can better poise themselves to protect against attacks.
- Cyber conflict: Organized cyber attacks conducted by nation states and organizations are becoming more common. Attacks are targeted not just at high profile organizations that can provide the attackers with valuable information and even funding, but also on individuals and companies.
- Ransomware: This particular type of attack uses force and emotion to part victims from their money. This scam locks a computer and makes its user believe it’s being held hostage by a law enforcement agency unless a fine is paid. Made to look quite legitimate, these attacks have even come under the guise of the FBI.
- Madware: This malicious software has the potential to disrupt user experience and is most commonly used in the mobile arena. It can leak personal information to bad guys, but is also used as a way to monetize “free” mobile apps.
- Social media attacks: As more social media platforms seek to monetize, the threat of malware attacks meant to steal personal information is rising.
- Mobile attacks: As the use of mobile devices rises, cybercriminals are shifting focus to malware that can enable them to steal information and money via these devices. Symantec, the company responsible for the Norton family of products, for example, says the trend in mobile attacks is sharply rising and is expected to continue.
- Cloud attacks: As more consumers and corporations use cloud storage to ease file sharing, data storage and access, cybercriminals are setting their sights on hacking into these “secure” offsite networks. Companies such as Norton are striving to stop them in their tracks.
- eWallet attacks: The popularity of eWallet technology to speed up the payment process online is greatly on the rise, especially as mobile device use becomes more popular. Symantec predicts cybercriminals will focus more attention on exploiting eWallet technology so it can glean payment information from victims.
- Small business attacks: Individual consumers aren’t the only ones targeted by cybercriminals. There has been a sharp increase of cyber attacks on small businesses in recent years and it’s believed the trend will continue.
- Social networking spoofs: The use of social networking spoof sites by the bad guys has increased dramatically. These sites are designed to mirror trusted social networking sites in an attempt to get users to share their personal data.
- Web-based attacks: The use of Internet browsers as the doorway into a computer and its owner’s personal information is on the rise. While many browsers perform well in blocking attacks, none are foolproof. In 2012, there was a 30 percent increase in the number of web-based attacks.
As cybercriminals come up with new ways to attack, consumers can take measures to protect themselves, their information and their devices. Some of the best protections include:
- Exercising common sense when accessing websites and sharing personal information
- Going directly to websites rather than clicking on links in emails
- Taking care to only use trusted, secured websites when sharing personal data
- Running frequent virus scans on computers and mobile devices
- Enabling firewalls and other available system protections
- Keeping all installed software up to date
- Using third-party antivirus and antimalware protections
Useful online resources:
- SANS Institute: Security Predictions 2013-2014: Emerging Trends in IT and Security
- MS-ISAC: Cyber Security Emerging Trends and Threats for 2013 (Archived Recording)
- eWeek: Black Hat 2013: Five Security Trends That Will Draw Most Attention
- Information Week: 7 Top Information Security Trends For 2013
- Symantec: Top 5 Security Predictions for 2013 from Symantec