Targeted Attacks and Mobile Malware Top Threats for 2012

Sue Marquette Poremba
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Mobile Device Usage Soars With or Without Permission

Since it is November, it's time to start thinking of the cyber security landscape for 2012. M86 Security released its 2012 threat report earlier this week, and there isn't anything there that surprised me. From the 10 situations predicted to be the biggest threats of 2012, the following three are predicted to have the biggest impact in 2012, according to an M86 release:


  • Targeted Attacks Will Become More Complex and Public
  • Cybercriminals Will Continue to Capitalize on the Popularity of Social Networking
  • Mobile Malware Will Emerge as a Real Threat


A top predicted threat that intrigued me is the increasing ability for criminals to track individual users by using GPS coordinates. Usually these threat predictions focus on network security issues, but the GPS threat focuses on how malware can impact physical security. The report stated:

Expect to see malware that targets not only user data, but that could also potentially track GEO location information, which could be a big concern for child safety. Child pornographers and kidnappers could be interested in personal photos on a device, each stamped with the GPS coordinates of where it was taken, even on parents' devices.

From a corporate standpoint, GPS-related malware could also track an employee's whereabouts and could put intellectual property at risk. That's a little freaky, thinking someone could follow you around because of malware in your GPS.

All in all, this year's threat report seems to have a different feel from threat reports in past years, partly because of the increasing popularity of mobile devices. As Bradley Anstis, vice president of technical strategy with M86 Security said:

One of the most troubling trends is the rapid progression of mobile malware. Due to the ubiquity of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, cybercriminals see them as highly profitable targets and are driven to develop new ways to compromise user data, and potentially breach privacy by tracking individuals' locations.

This threat report from M86 is the first of likely many threat reports to land in my inbox. I can't wait to see the rest and to see how they contrast and compare. I expect mobile malware, targeted attacks and social media attacks to lead the way, but I'm curious to see if anyone else picks up on GPS malware or cyber attacks involving major sporting events - or if other security professionals foresee something totally different.

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