On the heels of the announcements that online retailer Zappos and Israeli airline El Al had their networks breached by hackers, one Internet security firm is warning businesses of even more security threats to come.
In its just-released 2012 trend predictions AppRiver, a provider of email messaging and Web security solutions, is forecasting a year filled with even more online dangers — and a wider variety of them.
With the proliferation of mobile devices, including phones and tablets, AppRiver predicts 2012 will see a rise in mobile malware, giving cybercriminals new avenues to steal money and wreak havoc.
Additionally, the popularity of social networking sites will have cybercriminals looking for new ways to launch malware campaigns on Facebook and Twitter that are concealed as messages from "friends," according to the forecast.
With hacktivist groups such as Anonymous and LulzSec gaining notoriety in 2011, AppRiver is also predicting 2012 will see a number of copycat groups targeting corporations with similar cyberattacks.
"Cybercrime, unfortunately, is not going anywhere, since we increasingly rely on technological advancements for convenience and entertainment," said Fred Touchette, report author and senior security analyst at AppRiver. "The best thing we can do is remain vigilant by keeping software up to date and adopting a layered cybersecurity strategy."
The report also forecasts a rise in targeted malware in 2012. According to AppRiver, complex pieces of malware — like the infamous Stuxnet worm and its cousin Duqu — will be at least as prevalent, if not more so, this year.
"We knew that the use of malware for cyberespionage was imminent, but as Stuxnet was further analyzed and its intentions revealed, it became clear that the era of cyber warfare has begun," Touchette said.
AppRiver’s Threat and Spamscape report also examined 2011, which saw malware being used for the first time for far more nefarious purposes than stealing bank accounts.
Touchette said natural disasters around the world were the driving force behind many online attacks in 2011.
"World events helped steer large malware campaigns, as Japan and New Zealand suffered major tragedies that kept the rest of the world hungry for information," he said. "That, unfortunately, led many victims into malicious online traps."
Chad Brooks is a Chicago-based freelance writer who spent 10 years working as a newspaper reporter before working in public relations. You can follow him on Twitter @cbrooks76.