2014 brought with it many significant additions to the technology landscape. These put new capabilities into the hands of users and companies that allowed them to do things that they would not have thought possible before. However, these same changes also aid threat actors: threats can now come from unexpected vectors, and augment the existing capabilities that attackers already possess.
What are the key developments that will shape the threat landscape of tomorrow, and how do we foresee its evolution? These are the trends that we think will shape 2015:
More cybercriminals will turn to darknets and exclusive-access forums to share and sell crimeware.
We’ve seen cybercriminals leveraging Deep Web and other darknet services as well as untraceable peer-to-peer networks (e.g. Tor, I2P, Freenet) for selling and exchanging tools and services. Takedowns and collaborative efforts beween researchers and law enforcement agencies have disrupted cybercrime gangs, giving them more reasons to go further underground. Security firms together with law enforcement agencies need to extend their reach by providing threat intelligence and having one definition of cybercrime to help law enforcers regardless of jurisdictions, to catch cybercriminals and attackers.
Increased cyber activity will translate to better, bigger, and more successful hacking tools and attempts.
Cybercriminals will go after bigger targets rather than home users as this can generate more profits for them. We will see more data breach incidents with banks, financial institutions, and customer data holders remaining to be attractive targets. As such, organizations and individuals need to assume compromise; enterprises need to constantly monitor their network for any threats while individual users must always change their passwords to prevent data theft.
Exploit kits will target Android, as mobile vulnerabilities play a bigger role in device infection.
Aside from the growth of Android threats, we will see more vulnerabilities found in mobile devices, apps, and platforms in the coming year. Cybercriminals will target data stored in these mobile devices. In addition, attackers may employ tools similar to Blackhole Exploit Kit (BHEK), leveraging Android OS fragmentation. Traditional threats like ransomware will plague the mobile landscape as well.
Targeted attacks will become as prevalent as cybercrime.
The success of high-profile targeted attack campaigns has highlighted the fact that cyber attacks are useful means of gathering intelligence. With this, we will see targeted attacks from other countries, not just countries that are commonly said to be the source of these attacks. We will observe more diversity in terms of targets and attack origins as more threat actors with differing agendas are seen. Although the motivations of threat actors may vary, they will continue to steal information such as top-secret government, data, financial information, intellectual property, industry blueprints, among others. Social media will become a new entry point for targeted attacks.
New mobile payment methods will introduce new threats.
The introduction of Apple Pay with the iPhone 6 and 6 Plus may kickstart the adoption of mobile payment systems by many consumers. Apple Pay is not alone in the market – other payment systems have or will be introduced by other companies and trade associations. Not all of these payment systems have been thoroughly tested to withstand real-world threats, and we may see attacks targeting mobile commerce in 2015.
We will see more attempts to exploit vulnerabilities in open source apps.
In 2014, we saw several vulnerabilities in open-source projects such as Shellshock and Heartbleed. These vulnerabilities were undetected for years and were only brought into light recently. Due to the massive impact of these vulnerabilities, cybercriminals and attackers may decide to investigate the existing code and see if other dormant vulnerabilities are present.
They will also set their eyes on other less-known platforms, protocols, and software. Furthermore, they will look for vulnerabilities found in open source platforms and apps (for example Open SSL v3) as well as OS kernels.
Technological diversity will save IoE/IoT devices from mass attacks but the same won’t be true for the data they process.
A wide variety of devices will make up the Internet of Things/Internet of Everything – from fitness devices to smart home appliances, the smartification of everything will continue apace. This variety will also provide this field some measure of safety – no single attack will cover all of these devices. However, the data gathered by these devices may well be at risk if companies providing various IoE services are breached.
More severe online banking and other financially motivated threats will surface.
Weak security practices like not using two-factor authentication and chip-and-pin technology continue to persist in the banking sector. These practices will cause financially motivated threats to grow in scale throughout the coming year.
Apart from credentials, cybercriminals will steal user identities. Mobile device users will also be affected by these threats as cybercriminals will launch mobile phishing attacks, use of fake aps and domain name system (DNS) changers. We will see stealthier mobile threats that use packers similar to computer software.
More details about these predictions can be found at Trend Micro Security Predictions for 2015 and Beyond.