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The professionalization of the cybercriminal industry continued to grow this past year as bad guys were able to offer easy to buy and use services that amplified the scale of crime, a new report said.

“While many security experts are aware of the high level trends, few have recognized their significance” said James Lyne, global head of security research at Sophos, which released its Security Threat Report outlining the significant changes in cyber criminal behavior over the course of last year and a forecast for their preferred methods of attack in 2014. “If 2013 has taught us anything, it is that traditional security controls are struggling. These new behaviors are forcing the industry to adapt and change, and widely held best practices must be reconsidered.”

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The threat report highlights new security concerns ranging from stealthy malware tools that offer dynamic camouflage and provide attackers with long-term persistent access to users’ data, to the proliferation of connected devices that represent new and often ill-protected targets.

Many new Internet of Things devices are becoming commonplace in our homes and everyday infrastructure, offering attackers the potential to impact daily lives, rather than just the traditional theft of financial information.

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“These trends are set to continue in 2014 as threats become even smarter, shadier and stealthier,” Lyne said.

In 2014, Sophos predicts greater focus from cyber criminals on high quality and convincing phishing and social engineering to compensate for harder to exploit operating systems like Windows 8.1; embedded devices will open old wounds as security mistakes eliminated in the modern PC environment carelessly end up re-implemented; attacks on corporate and personal data in the cloud will continue to grow as providers struggle to refine the security strategy in this new computing platform; and malware for mobile is set to become as sophisticated as its PC relatives.

“It is clear in 2014 we need to be watching not just the evolution of existing attacks, but be prepared for dangerous new threats emerging that we haven’t previously dealt with,” said Gerhard Eschelbeck, CTO at Sophos.

“As the industry adapts and enhances protection mechanisms to cover new devices and threats, this is increasingly becoming an issue for every member of society, not just for government and business,” he said.

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