Five cybersecurity predictions for 2012

In this guest post, Patrik Runald, Sr. Manager, Security Research at Websense, looks at the – very near – future of cybersecurity. With all of the crazy 2011 security breaches, exploits and notorious hacks, what can we expect for 2012? 

The cybersecurity predictions in a report by Websense are clear: “With an influx of bring your own devices (BYOD) and mobility, social media exploding, cloud computing knocking, and other operational challenges thrown in for good measure, if 2011 was the shocker, then 2012 is likely to be the kitchen sink of security concerns”.

Last year’s Websense Security Labs predictions were very accurate, so these predictions should provide very useful guidance for security professionals. Here are the top 5; the full report can be downloaded here (PDF, no registration).

1. Your social media identity may prove more valuable to cybercriminals than your credit cards.

Bad guys will actively buy and sell social media credentials in online forums.

Trust is the basis of social networking, so if a bad guy compromises your social media log-ins, there is a good chance they can manipulate your friends. Which leads us to prediction #2.

2. The primary blended attack method used in the most advanced attacks will be to go through your social media “friends,” mobile devices and through the cloud.

We’ve already seen one APT attack that used the chat functionality of a compromised social network account to get to the right user.

Expect this to be the primary vector, along with mobile and cloud exploits, in the most persistent and advanced attacks of 2012.

3. 1,000+ different mobile device attacks coming to a smartphone or tablet near you.

People have been predicting this for years, but in 2011 it actually started to happen. And watch out: the number of people who fall victim to believable social engineering scams will go through the roof if the bad guys find a way to use mobile location-based services to design hyperspecific geolocation social engineering attempts.

4. SSL/TLS will put net traffic into a corporate IT blind spot.

Two items are increasing traffic over SSL/TLS secure tunnels for privacy and protection. First is the disruptive growth of mobile and tablet devices. And second, many of the largest, most commonly used websites, like Google, Facebook, and Twitter are switching to https sessions by default, ostensibly a more secure transmission.

But as more traffic moves through encrypted tunnels, many traditional enterprise security defences are going to be left looking for a threat needle in a haystack, since they cannot inspect the encoded traffic.

5. Containment is the new prevention.

For years, security defenses have focused on keeping cybercrime and malware out. Organizations on the leading edge will implement outbound inspection and will focus on adapting prevention technologies to be more about containment, severing communications, and data loss mitigation after an initial infection.

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