The “post-PC era” is a phrase which has been a veritable buzzword for some time. However, 2012 saw cybercrime expanding to mobile platforms, highlighting how threats have entered the post-PC era, too.
Mobile Threats: 350,000 and Growing
By the end of 2012, the number of Android malware grew to 350,000. This was a monumental growth from the 1,000 mobile malware we saw at the end of 2011. Much of this growth was driven by adware and premium service abusers, which accounted for a sizable majority of the seen growth.
The popularity of Android in the mobile space means that it is now facing threats similar to what has faced Windows in the desktop space. This threat grew and became more sophisticated throughout the entire year, and we expect that this will continue into 2013.
Data breaches and Malware: Business as Usual
The year saw a continuation and evolution of many familiar threats. Data breaches and APTs continued to hit organizations large and small. Increasingly, the question is no longer if a system will suffer a data breach, but when. Throughout the year, we discovered and looked into various information theft campaigns, as well as the tools used.
Similarly, “conventional” threats mostly saw a gradual evolution in 2012. Phishing messages became harder to tell from real ones and were combined with the Blackhole Exploit Kit to mount highly effective attacks. Banking malware was significantly improved with the addition of automatic transfer systems which sped up the actual process of moving money to criminal bank accounts. Ransomware took the place of fake antivirus as the primary threat facing consumers. We also saw what we’ve dubbed the “children” of Stuxnet—Flame, Flamer, Gauss, and Duqu—due to similarities such as in code.
Vulnerabilities and Exploits: Exploits Kits and Java
Many of these attacks were made possible by vulnerabilities and exploits. We saw extensive usage of the aforementioned Blackhole Exploit Kit, which made it relatively easy for attackers to compromise targeted systems. The year saw the introduction of version 2.0 of the exploit kit, which was at least in part a response to successes in investigating the earlier 1.x version by security vendors (including Trend Micro).
Java proved to be a serious security problem throughout the entire year. A zero-day vulnerability in Java 7 was found and exploited in August; our own data indicates that Java was the most targeted program via browsers in 2012. These problems were severe enough that vendors have taken steps to reduce the use of Java, with Apple going so far as to remove it from browsers on OS X computers.
We have prepared two reports that outline the threats we saw in 2012. One, our Annual Security Roundup titled Evolved Threats in a “Post-PC” World, outlines the threats that we saw in the overall security landscape in the past year. The second, our Mobile Threat and Security Roundup titled Repeating History, examines the threats in greater depth the threats in the mobile landscape in the past year. You can read these reports by clicking on their titles, or their respective covers below: