McAfee: Social Media, Mobile, Apple Devices Most Vulnerable to Security Threats in 2011

Security vendor’s 2011 Threat Predictions report predicts cybercriminals will attack shortened URL services, geolocation sites and Internet TV.

January 4, 2011

D.H. Kass

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Cybercriminals will attack popular platforms and services such as Google Inc.’s Android and Google TV, Apple Computer Inc.’s iPhone and the Macintosh operating system in greater numbers and with more vehemence in 2011, according to researchers who compiled McAfee Inc.’s 2011 Threat Predictions report.

“We’ve seen significant advancements in device and social network adoption, placing a bulls-eye on the platforms and services users are embracing the most,” said Vincent Weafer, McAfee senior vice president.

“These platforms and services have become very popular in a short amount of time, and we’re already seeing a significant increase in vulnerabilities, attacks and data loss,” he said.

The security vendor recently offered its prime targets for security threats in the coming year:

-- Social media sites with abbreviated URL services, such as Twitter, will be primary targets for cybercriminals because masking malicious web addresses is easier using shortened URLs. McAfee said that it figures some 3,000 shortened URLs are generated per minute, making social media sites housing them a fertile ground for spam, scams and other nefarious activity.

-- McAfee also expects that an uptick in the use of geolocation services available at Facebook, Gowalla and foursquare, will enable cybercriminals to gain users' personal information to better position a targeted attack.

-- The booming popularity of mobile devices combined with a shaky cellular infrastructure and lagging encryption make the segment a potential hotbed for cybercrime, in particular compromising user and corporate data, McAfee said.

-- The security company said that Apple’s days out of the crosshairs of cybercriminals are over, predicting that the popularity of the iPhone and iPad in business settings will prompt an outbreak of Apple botnets and Trojans in 2011.

-- Internet TV platforms such as Google TV will offer tempting ground for “suspicious and malicious apps,” McAfee said, owing to the growing popularity of those apps.

-- Emails and files containing malicious content designed to fool users will become more sophisticated and prevalent in 2011, McAfee said. So-called signed malware that mimics legitimate files and attacks that appear to come from friends but actually are viruses will remain favorites of cybercriminals, the company said.

-- More sophisticated bots better able to bypass security and law enforcement monitoring will boost botnet activity for data gathering and data removal rather than simply sending spam, McAfee predicted.

-- State sponsored targeted espionage or sabotage carried out by cybercriminals for other than financial gain will become more than an isolated event, McAfee said. The security vendor said that companies of all sizes with involvement in national security or the global economy should prepare themselves to come under continues advanced persistent threat (APT) aimed at email archives and vital information warehoused in databases.

TAGS: security,mobile,Apple,social media,McAfee

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