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Internet Security Trends in 2011

Online security is constantly changing as cyber criminals adapt their tactics — finding new and improved ways to con people online and exploit personal information for their gain. As we approach another new year, it's only natural to wonder: what trends will dominate the security scene in 2011? We took the question to Malware Labs at Lavasoft. Below are the five threat trends our Malware Labs analysts predict that you'll need to be aware of this coming year.

  1. Complex targeted attacks on companies and/or critical infrastructure. Stuxnet made headlines this year due to its complexity, highly precise targeting, and the use of multiple zero-day exploits and stolen digital certificates. While Stuxnet's intention to stay below the radar was not realized, we can expect to see further attempts to evade detection and to compromise fewer but higher value targets.
  2. Zero-day application vulnerability exploits. Users understand the importance of applying operating system patches but are less aware of the need to apply security updates to applications; patches fixing application vulnerabilities are typically slow to appear, and it's not always apparent to the user that an update is available and that action needs to be taken, making it an easier malware target. Adobe's Flash and Reader applications bore the brunt of exploits in 2010 and were quick to be exploited - we can expect malware writers to react more quickly to leverage a wider array of application vulnerabilities.
  3. Scareware and rogue (fake) security products. Rogue security software, also known as scareware, take the form of legitimate-looking anti-virus, anti-spyware and anti-malware products and appear to be beneficial from a security perspective; in reality, they provide little or no protection, generate misleading alerts, or attempt to lure users into fraudulent transactions. The money made from this malware model ensures that cyber criminals will not abandon this profitable endeavor.
  4. Mobile malware. Smartphones are becoming more ubiquitous and as more services involving financial transactions are made available to handsets, exploits that leverage vulnerabilities on smartphone operating systems are sure to be targets for cyber criminals. Recent examples of Android malware and proof of concept examples suggesting iPhones are not immune suggest these non-Windows platforms have already attracted the attention of malware writers.
  5. Blackhat SEO. Cyber scammers will continue to poison search engine results using trending headlines and videos to lead to malicious sites in an attempt to distribute rogue (fake) security software and other types of malware.

How can you stay safe online in 2011? In addition to protecting your PC with updated security software, it's important to stay aware and cautious of the types of threats you may encounter as you use the Web. Check for frequent threat updates on the Malware Labs' blog — and stay with us here, at Lavasoft News, for your monthly security news roundup!

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