Mobiles to be prime cyber-crime target in 2008

21 Dec 2007

Mobile phones will be the victims of increasing malware attacks in 2008, net security firm BitDefender has warned.

Mobile malware, botnets, phishing and identity theft will be the main threats facing technology users in the year ahead, the company said.

“User behaviour has changed over the past two years,” said Bogdan Dumitru, chief technology officer, BitDefender. “With the emergence of the online lifestyle, we believe we will see new threats resulting from online bill payment, stock trading, shopping, gaming and social networking.

“Traditional anti-virus and other security providers are focused on protecting computer applications and while this is certainly still important, today’s biggest threats – as well as the most prominent emerging threats – are targeted at the online lifestyle.”

Mobile devices are prime targets in 2008. Mobile device connectivity via channels like Wi-Fi, GPRS and Bluetooth will continue to allow opportunities for malware applications to steal sensitive data.

Spam and phishing will also migrate to the mobile phone platform. Mobile spam, especially via SMS, is expected to increase dramatically in 2008.

Now that most mobile devices are equipped with web browsers, common phishing techniques are targeting mobile applications and will continue to do so. The WAP-PUSH technology allows ‘pushing’, or loading, arbitrary, unsolicited content to mobile devices via WAP, thus providing a novel and very dangerous way to distribute viruses.

BitDefender predicts there will be an increase in targeted exploits of malware and money-driven actions, attempts to collect private databases, financial information and internet banking details. The attacks will happen less frequently than they have in the past but they will be more sophisticated as social engineering will influence daily events, BitDefender anticipates.

Spam will evolve and diversify, using constant variation in an attempt to avoid filters. Penny stock spam will continue to increase along with spam that simply points users to specific websites.

Political spam will be prevalent during 2008 as the US presidential elections draw near.

Attachment spam, which was decreasing in the last few months of 2007, is expected to increase again and become a significant concern in the next year.

Phishing, both web- and email-based, remains a severe security threat in 2008. Techniques used to defeat anti-spam filters are expected to become more sophisticated and the use of SSL authentication by phishing websites to get the ‘lock icon’ look in the victim’s browser is expected to increase. BitDefender experts also predict the number of targeted bank attacks will grow significantly in 2008.

By Niall Byrne