Users warned to secure their online lifestyle

18 Jan 2008

Internet users have been warned about securing their online lifestyles in 2008, not just in the way they use social networking and gaming sites, but in all aspects of online services including bill payments, shopping and stock trading.

Email security firm SoftScan predicts that the amount of spam distributed will drop marginally during the first half of 2008, only to rise once again later in the year.

“Although social engineering will still be the preferred method to lure people into infecting their computer or giving away password information, the approaches themselves will become much more sophisticated,” commented Diego d’Ambra of SoftScan.

“As criminals redouble their efforts to improve response yields and ultimately increase turnover, we expect to see highly-targeted spam with content written specifically for the recipient.”

SoftScan believes the majority of information used to create these messages will be collected illegally from online services, which often hold private and financial data that can then be exploited.

In addition, phishing attacks are likely to have a makeover too. Links will redirect users to secure spoof sites that include key symbols such as the padlock and allow the criminal to lead the user further into a false sense of security.

Popular websites that include content and links from a large range of third parties are also likely to be high on the list of malware writers.

Attacks have already been seen whereby advertising content providers have inadvertently delivered malware via infected adverts or the advert itself takes the users to a malicious website.

SoftScan expects this type of threat will be developed further during the course of 2008.

“Botnets will continue to play an important part in the dissemination of spam and other types of attack and their ‘success’ may well inspire others to start their own business,” continues Diego d’Ambra.

“If this occurs, I think we will also see the criminals develop malware to try to harvest each other’s bots, proving that there is no honour among thieves in the online world.”

At the same time, SoftScan still expects to see plenty of the same old tricks in 2008, with the Olympics, European Soccer Championship and the US presidential election being popular subjects with malware emails.

In addition, spammers will include a continuation of obfuscation techniques to try and beat the anti-spam filters by using video clips and the like to deliver spam messages.

By John Kennedy