2012 Identity Theft Trend Predictions
Published On January 16th, 2012

Original article contributed by Debix

Watch Out For Threats on Social Media and Mobile Devices

From botnets to WikiLeaks, 2011 was a watershed year for identity theft and technology security issues. So what does 2012 have in store for us?

With an influx of mobile devices, an explosion in social media, and cloud computing being hailed as the next big thing, 2012 will likely bring a whole new batch of security concerns. The security research firm Websense made its predictions of technology threats we’ll be seeing more in the near future:

  • Your social media identity may be more valuable to cyber criminals than your credit cards. Spammers have been buying bits and pieces of your email credentials for years, but now they’re moving onto your social media credentials. If a bad guy compromises your Facebook or Twitter log-ins, there’s a good chance they can manipulate your friends. Which leads to the next prediction…
  • Bad guys’ attack methods will go through your social media “friends” and your mobile devices. While past attacks relied on email phishing scams, attacks in 2012 will increasingly use a combination of social media, mobile and cloud computing platforms. A recent attack involved the chat function of a compromised social media account to get to the right user. Expect social media networks like Facebook to be the primary focus of advanced attacks in 2012.
  • Multiple types of attacks are coming to a smartphone or tablet near you. Websense estimates that 2012 will usher in more than 1,000 different variants of exploits, malicious applications, and botnets infecting that device glued to your hand and plugged into your head. “We’ll at least see a new variant every day,” warns Websense. And if application creators don’t protectively sandbox their offerings, you’re likely to see malware that accesses your banking info, work documents, social media credentials and other sensitive data on your phone. Websense also predicts more schemes to lure mobile users to infected apps and websites. And the number of victims will go through the roof if the bad guys find a way to use mobile location-based services to design hyper-specific scams on geolocation sites like Foursquare.
  • Avoid the London Olympics, the presidential elections and the Mayan calendar. These will all be popular search terms on the Web in 2012 – especially for cyber criminals. “Search engine poisoning” has become an everyday occurrence, but while big search engines like Google become better at removing poisoned results, criminals will use the same techniques on new platforms where users are less suspicious: Twitter feeds, LinkedIn updates, YouTube video comments and forum conversations. Use extreme caution with searches, posts, discussions and tweets dealing with the topics listed above, as well as any celebrity death or surprising news from the presidential campaign.
  • Fake technology tools are on the rise.“Scareware” tactics and the use of fake anti-virus tools will stage a comeback in 2012. But instead of seeing “you have been infected” pages, Websenses predicts that you’ll see one of these three options instead: fake registry clean-up, fake speed improvement software, or fake backup software mimicking popular personal cloud backup systems. Always question any offer, paid or free, whenever a window appears and says you should download and install something.
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