Report predicts next year's biggest cybersecurity threats

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Social networks, mobile devices and infrastructure systems such as the electric grid will be the main tagets of cybercrime next year, according to a new report.

The Georgia Tech Information Security Center (GTISC) report says that as infrastructure such as the electric grid and other utilities become networked and connect to the internet, they will face greater risk of disruption and misuse.

The report also warns that healthcare systems are increasingly vulnerable as more medical offices and hospitals become connected.

And these may find it particularly difficult to recover from attacks, as they are often subject to regulatory guidelines.

"“We already saw this scenario played out during the Russia/Georgia conflict in 2008," says SecureWorks' CTO Jon Ramsey in the report.

"At the same time Russia commenced physical attacks on Georgia, cyber attacks were launched against the country’s government communications systems, media outlets and banking institutions, knocking many of them offline for long periods. This made it extremely difficult for Georgian citizens to receive emergency warnings, get updates on the armed conflict and conduct business."

With cellphones increasingly being used for applications such as

mobile banking, says the report, they're becoming a much more attractive target. The report says that there's increasing use of Twitter and Facebook accounts to lure users into handing over sensitive information.

"The traditional security measures we have been using on computers have not been working that well," says Patrick Traynor, assistant professor at Georgia Tech.

"Worse still, phones have further constraints such as battery life that make traditional security measures – which require the continuous running of software in the background – unrealistic."

The full report, Emerging Cyber Threats Report for 2011, is here.