If you’re reading this, it means the Maya miscalculated and December 21, 2012 wasn’t the end of the world. However, looking at cyberthreats coming up in 2013, you’ve got to wonder if maybe their calculations weren’t that far off after all.
In 2013, cyberthreats could raise their decidedly ugly heads in any number of areas: cyberwarfare, data breaches, migrating malware, bring-your-own-device (BYOD), cloud computing, and mobile and social media fraud.
As things stand, cybercriminals collective reach expands to more industries each year, with financial services, insurance, retailers, enterprises and government agencies especially vulnerable to new threats.
“This year, cybercriminals have become so advanced that security professionals are struggling to detect many of their attacks in a timely manner,” said Andreas Baumhof, chief technology officer, ThreatMetrix. “As nearly every industry is increasingly targeted, businesses and consumers must make cybersecurity a top priority in 2013 to prevent fraud and malware attacks.”
ThreatMetrix has identified top cybersecurity trends and risks that will impact businesses and consumers across several industries in 2013:
• The Emergence of Cyberwarfare – Stuxnet — the virus allegedly developed by Israel and the United States to sabotage part of the suspected Iranian uranium enrichment program — foreshadows a new generation of warfare. James A. Lewis, a cybersecurity expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, indicated that at least 12 of the world’s 15 largest militaries are currently building cyberwarfare programs, and other government agencies worldwide should follow suit and prepare for imminent cyberwarfare.
• Government Agencies are in the Crosshairs of Cybercriminals — Government agencies, from U.S. federal to state, are under attack from cybercriminals including the hacktivist group Anonymous and foreign governments. Chief among these in 2012 were attacks and data breaches on the U.S. Navy, NASA, the California Department of Social Services, Department of Homeland Security, and the Wisconsin and South Carolina Departments of Revenue. As a result of these attacks, millions of Americans’ bank account numbers, personal identities, financial records, usernames, passwords, email IDs and security questions were compromised and these attacks show no sign of ending.
E-commerce and Financial Services
• Data Breaches Will Continue to Place Top Brands at Risk— Data breaches continued at an alarming rate in 2012 including cyber attacks on such high profile brands as Yahoo, eHarmony, Zappos, LinkedIn, eHarmony, Global Payments and many others. Such attacks are expected to continue in 2013 as more security weaknesses are discovered by cybercriminals.
• Malware is Trickling Down to Retail, Alternative Payments and Digital Currencies – Malware, historically targeted at financial institutions (FIs), will increasingly affect retailers, alternative payments and digital currencies in the New Year. These targets lack the same stringent levels of malware protection that FIs have spent years developing. Retail customers who typically use the same password and save login details across several accounts are also placed at greater risk for fraud.
• BYOD Trend Increases Risks – The BYOD trend common in today’s corporate world increasingly opens the door for cybercriminals. They are becoming more adept at designing malware that turns employees’ devices – smartphones, tablets, PCs – into unwitting attackers of their own companies or accounts. In 2013, BYOD will continue contributing to today’s malware threats through shared devices, search engine poisoning, image searches, hidden URLs and syndicated advertisements.
• Cloud Computing Increases Risk – As enterprise systems move to the cloud, this makes businesses more vulnerable to security breaches – the cloud is much easier for fraudsters to attack than traditional behind-the-firewall systems.
• Insurance at Risk from Mobile and BYOD – Cybercriminals are also targeting insurance companies with identity takeover by using stolen credentials to access financial information. Insurance companies need to expand their security measures beyond passwords and multi-factor authentication. Layered, integrated defenses provide a more accurate picture of who is connecting to applications, and whether devices are infected with malware or disguising as a cybercriminal.
Mobile and Social
• As Mobile Grows, Fraud Risk Increases – Mobile transactions are projected to reach $1 trillion by 2017, making businesses and consumers more vulnerable to fraud and malware attacks on mobile devices. Retailers and FIs do not have the bandwidth to monitor every transaction for suspicious activity, so consumers must take measure to protect their accounts.
• Social Media Spam and Fraud – Social media sites are making an effort to decrease the prevalence of spam and fraud in 2013, but this can be tricky – oftentimes these sites operate on several platforms through social registration, comments, voting/widgets and others. Administrators of sites such as Facebook and Twitter must take all platforms into consideration for their cybersecurity strategy.
“As more business transactions and activities move online, almost no industry is completely safe from fraud,” said Baumhof. “The best way for businesses and consumers to stay protected is to put preventative measures in place before it’s too late. While cybersecurity and fraud prevention seems unnecessary for some businesses, cybercriminals are so sophisticated today that they can’t be kept at bay for long without appropriate strategies in place.”