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Symantec reveals top 5 security predictions for 2013

With 2013 rapidly approaching, Internet security companies are starting to put their heads on the line and predict what the major threats and themes will be in next year’s online world.

Symantec is the latest firm to gaze into its crystal ball, having now published what it believes will be the top five most important issues in the security arena through the coming year.

“To derive our predictions for 2013, we began by talking to hundreds of security experts at Symantec to gather their thoughts and ideas,” the company explains. “Then, we peer-reviewed these ideas, argued a lot, and boiled it all down to a handful of predictions that we felt would provide real insight into where we believe the threat landscape is going.”

Leading Symantec’s rundown is the assertion that cyber conflict will become the norm. This year saw the proliferation of devastating malware campaigns like Flame, Mahdi and Shamoon, with the former - according to the Washington Post - representing a full cyber-espionage assault on Iran courtesy of the US and Israel. Symantec says these politically motivated attacks are likely to become common place in 2013 as nation states, organisations and activists turn to the cyber sphere to show their strength.

The company also predicts a rise in ransomware – malicious software that disables your computer’s functionality and demands a payment is made to restore it to working order. As demonstrated in the example below, scare tactics are typically used and cyber criminals are increasingly turning to ransomware thanks to the deployment of better online payment methods to collect money from their victims.

Third in Symantec’s list is a forecasted rise in mobile adware. Madware, as it is called, can sneak on to a user’s device when they download an app and potentially expose location details and contact information to cyber criminals. The predicted rise comes after a staggering 210 per cent increase in the most aggressive forms of madware over the past nine months.

The US firm goes on to predict new dangers emerging from the monetisation of social media. With the likes of Facebook aiming to boost profitability through schemes including the ability to buy and send real gifts, Symantec’s experts believe cyber criminals will look to raid social networks for payment credentials and other sensitive data. What’s more, even if the user only enters “innocuous” details on their accounts, it is warned that “cybercriminals sell and trade this [non-financial] information with one another to combine with information they already have about you, helping them create a profile of you they can use to gain access to your other accounts.”

Finally, Symantec believes users’ increasing reliance on mobility and cloud will see more exploitation from hackers in these areas. The rapid rise of Android malware in 2012 indicates a surge continuing in 2013, while unmanaged devices continuing to enter and exit corporate networks while using their clouds will see “increased risk of breaches and targeted attacks on mobile device data,” the company says.

More information on these threats can be found on Symantec’s company blog.