Beware these IT Threats in 2012

Jan. 24, 2012
McAfee Labs predictions should be on your radar

Those of you tasked with protecting your organization's network should be interested in the latest 2012 threat predictions from McAfee Labs. The list includes threats from rogue hacks to targeted attacks at utilities, banks and embedded systems.

"Many of the threats that will become prominent in 2012 have already been looming under the radar in 2011," Vincent Weafer, senior vice president of McAfee Labs, said in a press release. "Over the past year, the general public has become more aware of some of these risks, such as threats to critical infrastructure or the impact of hacktivism as they gain international media attention. In the meantime, we continue to see cybercriminals improving their toolkits and malware and are ready to make a significant impact in 2012."

IT security executives...please keep your guard up out there! Here's a list of some of the most immediate threats followed by a link to the full report:

McAfee Labs Threat Predictions for 2012

  • Utility Attacks: Many industrial systems, such as water, electric, oil and gas, are not prepared for cyberattacks. Many of the environments where SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems are deployed don't have stringent security practices. Attackers will continue to leverage this lack of preparedness, if only for blackmail or extortion in 2012.
  • Mobile Banking Attacks: 2011 saw the largest levels in mobile malware history. In 2012, mobile attackers will improve on their skill set and move toward mobile banking attacks. Techniques previously dedicated for online banking - such as stealing from victims while they are still logged on while making it appear that transactions are coming from the legitimate user - will now target mobile banking users.
  • Embedded Systems Vulnerable: Embedded systems - which are designed for a specific control function within a larger system and are commonly used in automotive, medical devices, GPS devices, routers, digital cameras and printers - will be targeted by malware that attacks at the hardware layer. These attacks will enable long-term access to the system and its data, giving sophisticated hackers complete control over the hardware.
  • Hackers Find New Points of Entry: New security features baked into the core of the operating system will cause hackers to find alternate entryways: down into the hardware and out of the operating system. Attacking hardware and firmware is not easy, but success allows attackers to create persistent malware in network cards, hard drives and even system BIOS (Basic Input Output System).
  • Hacktivism to Continue in New Forms: Either the "true" Anonymous group will reinvent itself, or die out. Additionally, those leading the digital disruptions will join forces with physical demonstrators, and will target public figures more than ever.
  • First Shots of a Cyberwar?: Expect to see some countries demonstrate their cyberwar capabilities in 2012, in order to send a message to the rest of the world. Many countries realize the crippling potential of cyberattacks against critical infrastructure, such as water, gas and power, and how difficult it is to defend against them.

For a full copy of the 2012 Threat Predictions report from McAfee Labs, please visit:

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