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The increasing mobility of data is forcing IT professionals to become even more agile, but they can’t forget how they protect against attacks today because this year saw a resurgence in traditional malware attacks, specifically malware distributed via the web.

More than 80 percent of attacks were redirects, the majority of which were from legitimate websites that ended up hacked, according to the Sophos Security Threat Report 2013, an assessment of what’s happened in 2012 and the outlook for 2013.

Attack Growth Next Year
Major Security Pain: Mobile Devices
New Year Threat Forecast
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Although there are websites created with the intention of infecting visitors, legitimate websites continue to be a popular target for cybercriminals, as once they suffer compromise, they will infect completely unsuspecting users.

While a large proportion of cybercrime continues to be opportunistic, Sophos believes in 2013, increased availability of malware testing platforms — some even providing criminals with money back guarantees – will make it more likely for malware to slip through traditional security systems. As a result, we can expect to see an increase in the number of incidents where attackers have gained and sustained surreptitious access to networks.

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Additional trends expected include:
More basic web server mistakes: Due to an uptick in credential-based extractions, IT professionals will need to pay equal attention to protecting their computers as well as their web server environment.

More “irreversible” malware: More attacks will place a greater focus on the need for behavioral protection mechanisms as well as system hardening and backup/restore procedures.

Attack toolkits with premium features: A continued evolution in the maturation of exploit kits, including premium features such as built in scriptable web services, APIs, and malware quality assurance platforms that appear to make access to high quality malicious code even simpler.

Better exploit mitigation: Enhanced exploit mitigation will not mean the end of exploits, instead, the market will see a decrease in vulnerability exploits offset by a sharp rise in social engineering attacks across a wide array of platforms.

Integration, privacy and security challenges: With GPS and near field communication (NFC) becoming more integrated into mobile platforms, expect to see a convergence in our digital and physical lives. This trend is identifiable not just for mobile devices, but for computing in general. In the coming year, watch for new examples of attacks built on these technologies.

“Two of the defining terms of 2012 are ‘empower’ and ‘evolve.’ Attacks and threats—on PCs, Macs and mobile devices—continue to evolve as does the technology to combat them,” said Gerhard Eschelbeck, CTO, Sophos.

“As users demand more and better ways to do their jobs, IT continues to evolve, bringing forth a new set of operating systems and other advancements, replete with different security models and attack vectors, making it crucial for security technology to evolve, ensuring that end users are protected and empowered—no matter what platform, device, or operating system they choose,” he said.

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