Security firm Sophos released its Security Threat Report 2012, detailing cybercrime statistics for the previous year, trends, predictions for 2012, and more. As one would expect from such a report, 2012 looks to be filled with ongoing and unseen threat methods as cybercriminals become more sophisticated in their craft.
The Sophos report describes 2011 as a year that saw a marked increase in cybercrime. Thanks to the development of innovative commercial tools, cybercriminals were given the power to easily create and scale malicious code campaigns across various environments. As a result, malware and infections grew in volume, and new targets of choice emerged in response to increased popularity, such as mobile devices. Sophos highlighted the appearance of “hacktivism” as well, where hackers attacked targeted organizations and their websites to prove a point. Anonymous and LulzSec made the news in 2011 with such attacks, and the CIA, PBS, and Sony represented just a sampling of the victims.
The past year also offered a bit of a surprise in the emergence of malware for Apple’s Mac platform. While many have exhibited an overriding feeling that Apple’s OS is bulletproof, recent findings have shown the opposite to be true. Sure, it may not be attacked on as high a frequency as Microsoft’s Windows OS, but 2011 revealed some chinks in Mac’s armor, leaving the door open for more occurrences in 2012.
To gain an understanding of user opinions on the online threat landscape, Sophos surveyed over 4,300 participants from around the world at the end of last year. Of those surveyed, 67 percent said they feel the existence of malware is increasing when compared to 2010. Nearly 61 percent said the biggest online threat comes from users who are failing to employ the proper practices to protect themselves. The survey also revealed that 20 percent of respondents identified social networking scams as the biggest threat to online safety.
As for trends to keep an eye on for this year and the future, Sophos listed non-Windows platforms, mobile payment technologies, and social media platforms as some of the top targets for cybercriminals. Mark Harris, VP of SophosLabs, said: “As we continue to access information in different ways, from different devices in different locations, security tools must be able to ‘protect everywhere’—from desktops to mobile and smart devices and the cloud. But more importantly and oft-disregarded, cybercriminals will continue to stalk the easiest prey — security basics like patching and password management will remain a significant challenge.”
For more on this topic, visit http://www.itnewsafrica.com/2012/01/sophos-unveils-their-security-threat-report-2012/
Sophos: Android Malware to Rise in 2012
While Sophos’ Security Threat Report 2012 covers a wide range of topics, one area of particular interest is its dissection of mobile operating system security. Google’s Android platform is enjoying significant success as the most widespread mobile OS on the market, and its popularity continues to increase. With that success, however, comes the unwanted attention of hackers and the likelihood of a rocky 2012 for Android in terms of malware.
According to the report, Android falls behind its competitors when it comes to security. Google may have the most popular platform at this time, but Apple, Microsoft, and Research in Motion have it beat in the realm of security for one reason or another, such as centralized control over updates, strict app rules, and more.
Android’s first problem, if you can call it one, is its popularity. Cybercriminals behind malware attacks want the most bang for their buck, and targeting widespread sources, such as Android in this case, the current king of the mobile OS world, provides that. The openness of the Android platform is another factor working against it. Android is spread across devices from a number of manufacturers and carriers. Google issues its patches to network providers, giving them control over when they are distributed to users. This results in a lack of uniformity with some Android users running unpatched versions that are vulnerable to attacks. Lastly, Sophos lists the existence of alternative app markets for Android devices as another cause of concern, as hackers can use such avenues to distribute rogue apps to unsuspecting victims.
A quick mobile security survey conducted by Sophos adds a bit of reason to the concern over Android security in 2012. Out of the survey’s 520 participants, 41 percent said they wished their company supplied them with an Android-based smartphone. The result is significant because it shows user preference towards Android, and as more companies allow employees to use personally selected smartphones for work purposes, the possibility of exposed business data goes up.
Only 33 percent of the participants said they employed passwords to access their smartphones, leaving the other 67 percent open to data theft should they fall into the wrong hands. Since 13 percent said they misplaced or lost their business smartphone, the prior statistic becomes even more worrisome. As for opinions on which OS will be the most targeted by malware and hackers, 29 percent chose Android, behind only Apple’s iOS at 35 percent.
For more on this topic, visit http://www.sophos.com/en-us/security-news-trends/reports/security-threat-report/html-16.aspx
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