Emerging Cyber Threats for 2012 - Slide 6

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Botnets

“Three or more years ago, botnet operators focused on stealing email and password credentials, which were useful to spammers,” said Gunter Ollmann, vice president of research for Damballa. “Now botnet controllers are building massive profiles on their users, including name, address, age, sex, financial worth, relation­ships, where they visit online, etc. They sell this information, where it ultimately finds its way into legitimate lead generation channels.”

Sites will buy the information stolen via botnets in bulk. The infor­mation may exchange hands for money several times. And eventu­ally, a legitimate business may pay for the information for lead generation purposes, not realizing that it has been stolen. In some cases, a company might pay $20 -$30 for a qualified lead. Botnets can also play a role in auto-filling forms online that are used to compile lists for marketing purposes. The botnets already have all the personal information necessary to fill out the forms, and botnet operators can devise an automated process resulting in a sophisti­cated fraud scam that is difficult to detect and prosecute.

In the past year, we have witnessed cyber attacks of unprecedented sophistication and reach. These attacks demonstrate that malicious actors have the ability to com­promise and control millions of computers that belong to governments, private enterprises and ordinary citizens. If we are going to prevent motivated adversaries from attack­ing our systems, stealing our data and harming our critical infrastructure, the broader community of security research­ers — including academia, the private sector and govern­ment — must work together to understand emerging threats and to develop proactive security solutions to safeguard the Internet and physical infrastructure that relies on it.

This slideshow features emerging cyber threats for 2012, identified by the Georgia Tech Information Security Center and the Georgia Tech Research

Institute.

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