2012 to see targeted attack influx

Johannesburg, 11 Jan 2012
Read time 2min 10sec

Cyber criminals will expand their targeted attacks to a broader range of companies and economic sectors this year.

This is according to a Kaspersky report, which indicates that the majority of targeted attacks presently affect companies and state organisations mostly involved in arms manufacturing, financial operations, as well as hi-tech and scientific research activities.

“In 2012, companies in the natural resource extraction, energy, transport, food and pharmaceutical industries will be affected, as well as Internet services and information security companies,” warns Alexander Gostev, author of the Kaspersky report, entitled: “Cyber threat forecast for 2012”.

Attacks are expected to spread beyond Western Europe and the US, and will predominantly affect Eastern Europe, the Middle East and South-East Asia.

Kaspersky Lab experts predict this trend is being spurred by cyber criminals changing their attack methods in response to the growing competition among IT security companies that protect against targeted attacks. Increased public attention given to security lapses will also force the attackers to search for new instruments, claims the security vendor.

Browser vulnerabilities

The conventional method of attacks that involve e-mail attachments with vulnerability exploits will gradually become less effective, while browser attacks will gain popularity, according to Costin Raiu, director of Kaspersky's global research and analysis team.

“Attacks will increasingly be launched from browsers. Of course, the effectiveness of this approach will depend on the number of vulnerabilities found in popular software such as browsers, office applications and multimedia systems,” he explains.

Cyberoam's 2012 predictions report reveals that hackers are using browsers and Web-based vulnerabilities as new attack tools. The complexity of these attacks has led to failure of most traditional security mechanisms.

However, Cyberoam reports that application security has become a legal mandate in most organisations. Web application firewalls that have deep packet inspection capabilities will play a critical role in an organisation's security.

According to the Symantec 2011 Critical Infrastructure (CIP) survey, 37% of surveyed companies completely or significantly engaged in a CIP programme in 2011, versus 56% in 2010. Gordon Love, Symantec's regional director for Africa, says this is alarming considering targeted attacks against critical infrastructure such as Stuxnet, Nitro and Duqu are expected to continue in 2012.

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