Hacktivism set to take off next year

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Even the smallest companies need to beware of 'pervasive and continuous' cybersabotage if they have any involvement with national security, McAfee Labs is warning.

Following the attacks by Anonymous, politically motivated attacks will proliferate and new sophisticated attacks will appear, says the company in its 2011 Threat Predictions report.

They will be conducted by people claiming to be independent of any particular government or movement, and will become more organized and strategic by incorporating social networks in the process.

Android, the iPhone, foursquare, Google TV and the Mac OS X platform, are all expected to become major targets for cybercriminals.

"We’ve seen significant advancements in device and social network adoption, placing a bulls-eye on the platforms and services users are embracing the most," says Vincent Weafer, senior vice president of McAfee Labs.

"These platforms and services have become very popular in a short amount of time, and we’re already seeing a significant increase in vulnerabilities, attacks and data loss."

Social media sites such as Twitter with URL-shortening services will be most riddled with cybercriminal activity, McAfee says, as they make it easy for cybercriminals to mask and direct users to malicious websites.

With more than 3,000 shortened URLs currently being generated every minute, McAfee Labs expects to see a growing number used for spam, scamming and other malicious purposes.

Users of geolocation services such as foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook Places are also vulnerable, says McAfee, thanks to the wealth pf personal information they give away.

Historically, the Mac OS platform has remained relatively unscathed by malicious attackers, but McAfee Labs warns that Mac-targeted malware will become a lot more sophisticated in 2011.

And an increasing number of suspicious and malicious apps will appear for Google TV,  targeting or exposing privacy and identity data and allowing cybercriminals to manipulate a variety of physical devices through compromised or controlled apps.