Top 5 Security Predictions for 2013

Originally published as Top 5 IT Security Predictions for 2013 on Technorati IT.

Apparently the Mayans were wrong, and after surviving those fatal predictions, here are some predictions for the security industry for 2013, according to UK security firm Bullguard.

Times of turbulence in the mobile security field, privacy violations at an all-time high, online fraud accompanied by blackmail storms and more cyber warfare clouding the security industry make it difficult to predict what will happen over the next year. But according to Bullguard, the future couldn’t be more clear.

By looking back at 2012′s tech developments, threat evolution and stats on consumer preferences, Bullguard offers it’s top 5 predictions for the security industry in 2013.

Top 5 Security Predictions for 2013

1. More mobile malware than ever before, targeting mostly Android devices. While Android was 2012′s most popular operating system globally, this also makes it a target for cyber-criminals looking to fish in the biggest pond, so to speak. This trend should continue through 2013 with Google estimating that there are over 1 million new devices, be it smartphones or tablets activated daily.

The open-source nature of Android also makes it easier for cyber-criminals to find and exploit platform flaws. Even the official Android app store, Google Play, struggled with security issues as cyber-criminals managed to slip in malware-laden apps, and additionally the ability to let users download apps from third parties, whose poor screening procedures put them at risk of unintentionally distributing infected apps to users.

2. More aggressive mobile adware invading user privacy. If you think anyone is getting apps for free, or anything for free, you’re mistaken. While the price on Google Play or iTunes may state that it’s “Free”, these app’s (around 90% to be exact, at least on Android) come bundled with adware that allow developers to send targeted ads to users.

So while you might not be paying with dollars, your information (including email, device ID, location, browsing habits and even phone number) is what’s being exchanged for that flashlight, calculator, or nifty new game instead. And this isn’t even criminal, because in most cases the apps ask for these permissions before installation. But it is invasive and how many people really read the app permissions page for everything they install on their device? This trend will continue through 2013 and likely raise the conversation about privacy to new levels.

facebook permissions screenshot

3. Online fraud will remain rampant in 2013. All types of real-life fraud has moved online. Everything from clairvoyant scams, charity donations, auctions, lottery, work-from-home job offers, fake freebies, money-muling and more are ways cyber-criminals can separate people from their money by exploiting emotional weaknesses, or perceived weakness. In particular, one type of online fraud known as ransomware is set to skyrocket in 2013. Ransomware, which combines malicious code with human panic, basically holds systems hostage by restricting access and demanding a ransom be paid to remove the restrictions. Some of these scams will encrypt files on the system’s hard drive, simply lock the system and display messages designed to get users to pay the ransom via online payment platforms.

4. Mobile & online shopping will continue to rise, but not without increased risk. As smartphones become more prevalent, so will mobile and online shopping. Lured by lower prices, free shipping and convenience, consumers will continue to buy things on their phones, online and even using e-wallets to pay for offline items. In 2013 this trend should continue to rise, but so will mobile hacks, compromising mobile payment systems, exploited wi-fi networks and more. Relying on built-in security measures alone won’t protect most consumers, which is why having a mobile security product will become even more important than ever over the next 12 months.

5. More advanced persistent threats (APT) will be discovered. Computer worms likeStuxnet, which Iran recently claimed to be a victim of, can infect a system and then gradually perform pre-programmed actions. These can include stealing sensitive information, sabotaging industrial activities or other cyber-warfare and cyber-espionage activities. Since these can take years to discover, the expectation is that we will hear more about APT’s in 2013, either new ones or strains of already known ones.

In the recent Iranian case, the worm targeted a power plant, but according to Huffington Post, provincial civil defense Chief Ali Akbar Akhavan stated in a Iranian Student News Agency report Tuesday, “Iranian computer experts were able to successfully stop the worm.”

With all the security and privacy threats forecasted it’s important to make sure you have the latest and best protection installed on your devices. To learn more about Bullguard mobile security, download a free 60-day trial of BullGuard Internet Security 2013 click here.

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