This week was a memorable one in the tech industry, with nearly all the attention devoted to the death of co-founder and former CEO of Apple Steve Jobs.
Consumers, business leaders and tech moguls alike took to social media, blogs and even Apple storefronts to pay their respects to Jobs, who passed away after years of battling cancer. He had stepped down as CEO of the company earlier this year, a sign that the disease was taking its toll on his body.
The cybercrime community, however, responded in a different way. In what came as little surprise to anyone familiar with cybersecurity, scams cropped up across the Web looking to take advantage of the news. One website using the URL stevejobsfuneral.com claimed that users could win a free MacBook Pro as part of an offer Apple had put together in light of the former CEO's death. Another, on Facebook, claimed Apple was giving away 1,000 free iPads.
The scams elicited users' email addresses, which could be used for spam purposes.
The trend is nothing new, as major news topics often attract scams looking to trick news-hungry Web users into giving up their personal information voluntarily. Another recent example arose last month, in time for the 10th anniversary of the September 11 terrorist attacks in New York, Virginia and Pennsylvania.
Apple had intended to grab headlines through other means this week, though, with its much-anticipated introduction of the next-generation iPhone taking place on October 4. Although the response was lukewarm – many Apple enthusiasts were let down to see a revamped iPhone 4 released, instead of a widely rumored and technologically advanced iPhone 5 – the announcement is likely to have a lasting impact on many companies' mobile security efforts.
Apple enthusiasts have inadvertently presented security issues to their employers, with many favoring their personally owned iPhones to any mobile device assigned for work purposes. This consumerization trend will only increase with the release of the iPhone 4s, and not only because of the attraction to the new device. In introducing a new iPhone, Apple may drive new customers with several wireless carriers, including the newly added Sprint. Combined with the price reduction of previous versions of the iPhone through other carriers – AT&T and Verizon Wireless are expected to drop the price for the iPhone 4 for customers who sign new contracts – the introduction of the iPhone 4s could spur a spike in sales of iPhones new and old.
For businesses, many of which are quite familiar with the security pitfalls of consumerization, this could make for a more complicated future in mobile device management.
Similarly, leaked pre-order data suggests that Amazon may have done with tablets this week what Apple had hoped for in smartphones. With its Kindle Fire, which has answered a need for a less expensive option in the tablet market, Amazon appears to be significantly shaking up a market that was created and has since been dominated by Apple.
According to figures leaked by tech blog CultofAndroid.com, Amazon received more than 250,000 pre-orders for its new tablet after just five days. If Amazon were to maintain this pace, the company would sell 2.5 million units by the time the tablet hits the market.
Including pre-orders, Apple sold 300,000 iPads on its first day on the market.
The rapidly rising interest in tablet computers suggests that consumerization is now a two-headed monster. Enterprise security administrators need to worry about their employees accessing the network through both tablets and smartphones, potentially doubling the threats. In addition, multiple tablet platforms will need support, as businesses may see a diverse set of tablets in the hands of their employees.
The high-profile private sector news may soon be eclipsed by a shocking revelation that surfaced today in the public sector. According to a recent Wired report, the U.S. military has come forward about a computer virus that has infiltrated the systems of land-based cockpits for drone airplanes. The virus acts as a keylogger, recording the keyboard activity of the pilots controlling the drones.
According to the report, the virus appears to be benign – remaining on the system without any indication that information has been leaked or sent to an outside source. Nevertheless, the virus has been persistent, as a source familiar with the situation told Wired that all of the military's attempts to remove it have proven futile.
"We keep wiping it off, and it keeps coming back," the unnamed source told Wired. "We think it's benign. But we just don't know."
Because of the inconclusive evidence so far, the Wired report speculated that the virus may have found its way onto the network accidentally.
"Military network security specialists aren't sure whether the virus and its so-called 'keylogger' payload were introduced intentionally or by accident; it may be a common piece of malware that just happened to make its way into these sensitive networks," the report explained.
However, military personnel are still approaching the situation cautiously, as the program has made its way onto classified hardware. Because of that, military researchers haven't ruled out the possibility that information has been transmitted through the Internet undetected, according to the report.
On a global level, the issues will resonate as a clash of two worlds: the future of cyberwarfare and the future of actual warfare. Drone airplanes have become a go-to solution in the U.S. military's international intervention, as they allow for an attack to take place without risking any human life. According to the Washington Post, the Air Force operates more than 150 drone airplanes to monitor current fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Successfully infiltrating these machines with malware would resonate on similar levels to the Stuxnet virus, found inside the infrastructure of Iran's nuclear system just over a year ago.
So it seems both the public and private sectors encountered security issues that will leave an impression lasting far longer than just this weekend. With these factors to consider, security experts, researchers and analysts will have much to discuss as the industry moves forward.
Security News from SimplySecurity.com by Trend Micro