The good news is that we’re getting better at fighting cybercrime. We’ll see more “takedowns” of large botnets similar to the ZeuS security task force operation that crippled that malware attack and resulted in arrests and charges. We’ve learned to use global collaboration of law enforcement organizations to stop these extremely large and dangerous botnets; and to attack the deep roots of these botnets to ensure the computers that control them are taken out of operation.
Ironically, another bit of good news is that the proliferation of botnets has caused greater competition in the cybercrime “business”. This has caused malware operators to attack and destroy other malware they find that could compete with them. These hit-men are being labeled “bot killers”. Sounds like the old days of organized crime where territoriality was dealt with by deadly force. Hey, I know this sounds a little twisted, but my opinion is that anything that destroys malware is a good thing. In fact, a good large-scale “shoot out” among the criminal groups might make the job of eradicating them a little easier for the authorities.
Okay…the bad news. The criminals are also getting better at what they do and consequently there will be more computers infected next year. By renting malware and cloning other malware, more cybercriminals will enter the game. There will also be an increase in innovation of attacks that will circumvent current defenses…wouldn’t you know it!
The new year will bring new social engineering scams that will prey on consumer fear; such as emails that state bank accounts have been compromised, “send money please!” attacks, and healthcare reform related scams.
If all that isn’t enough…there will also be an increase in ATM “skimming” crime. This is a practice where your credit card number and PIN are recorded by a fake card reader (skimmer) and a camera. There is also evidence of a “next-generation” increase in the technology used in this crime which may prove to be a much more productive approach…bad news for sure. See my post Cybercriminals Changing Attack Method on ATMs.
And believe it or not…the poor global economy will have an impact. More out of work programmers, victims of layoffs incident to the poor economic situation, will enter the cybercrime business either as malware operators or malware developers. In addition, people from other disciplines or skill groups who need a job may sign on as mules (money transporters or “launderers”) for cybercrime organizations. The criminal help-wanted sign is out… a sad state of affairs, for sure.
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