ESET predicts cyber threats for 2012

5 Jan 2012

Mobile malware, Windows 7 threats, targeted attacks and social engineering improvements make up antivirus company ESET’s cyber threat predictions for 2012.

The company’s worldwide security experts compiled the list after examining threatscape developments for 2012.

“In terms of top malware trends for 2012, the first place has to go to malware for mobile devices,” said Sebastian Bortnik, awareness and research co-ordinator at ESET Latin America.

“The strong growth in market share for Android has made this platform the primary focus of malware developers who target mobile devices.”

Android malware is not the only trend in operating system security. Gartner predicted Windows 7 will be the most widely used operating system by the end of the year. That means some threats are likely to be more “popular” in 2012, ESET said. As the security technology in operating systems like Windows 7 becomes more sophisticated, we are likely to see cyber criminals develop more complex malware to try and defeat this security.

Also on the horizon is malware designed to attack specific targets, as Stuxnet did last year, said ESET. Right now, we’re seeing Duqu, based on Stuxnet, and there is a high probability we will see more of this kind of threat this year.

A big trend for 2012, according to ESET, is likely to be a shift in the propagation methods used by malware distributors.

Cyber criminals are less likely to use traditional channels for scams and malware, such as email, instant messaging or USB devices. They will instead turn more to social engineering techniques deployed on social networks, search results poisoned by blackhat SEO techniques, and drive-by-downloads – malware installed on vulnerable and legitimate websites – as channels for infecting endpoints and compromising networks.