With the growing diversity of OSs among companies as well as the growing use of mobile devices, cybercriminals should have a very profitable 2011. Their tactic will be to put a new spin on social engineering by way of “malware campaigns” and by bombarding recipients with email messages that drop Trojan downloaders. All these will largely be made possible because of the Internet. Already, Trend Micro threat researchers have found that more than 80 percent of the top malware use the Web to arrive on users’ systems.
Diversity of OSs expand opportunities for cybercrime
2011 will bring about growth in exploits for alternative OSs, programs, and Web browsers, combined with tremendous growth in the use of application vulnerabilities.
Cloud computing and virtualization—while offering significant benefits and cost savings—will move servers outside traditional security perimeters and will expand the playing field for cybercriminals. It will likewise increase the security demand on cloud service providers.
Trend Micro expects more proof-of-concept (PoC) attacks against cloud infrastructure and virtualized systems to show up in 2011. Knowing that the desktop monoculture will disappear, cybercriminals will test how to successfully infiltrate and misuse a monoculture in the cloud.
Targeted attacks on “unpatchable” (but widely used) legacy systems like Windows® 2000/Windows® XP SP2 are likewise expected to continue.
It’s all about social engineering
Social engineering will continue to play a big role in the propagation of threats. Trend Micro believes that there will be fewer infiltrated websites in 2011. Instead, cybercriminals will focus on malware campaigns that promote malware via cleverly designed email messages that trick users into clicking malicious links that point to download pages. These types of campaign will speed up the proliferation process for downloader malware. The downloader would then randomly generate binaries to avoid detection, as DOWNADConficker and ZeuS-LICAT have done in the past.
Thanks to easy-to-use underground toolkits, midsize companies will continue to be a target of cyber-espionage. In 2010, the use of underground toolkits like XWM exploded, making it easier to target particular organization types. ZeuS primarily targeted small businesses in 2010. Moving forward, localized and targeted attacks are expected to continue to grow in number and sophistication both against big name brands and/or critical infrastructure.
In 2011, it is very likely that cybercriminals will increasingly target security vendors’ brands in order to cause confusion and insecurity among users. To learn more about the key forecasts for next year, read the Trend Micro 2011 Threat Predictions.