In-depth

Security threats to beware in 2011

We take a look ahead to what threats await us in 2011.

In 2010 many of the security predictions made in the previous year came true, from increasing attacks on social networks to more mobile malware.

Clear trends emerge each year and 2011 looks likely to be no exception to the rule.

Whilst it is extremely challenging to predict the exact nature of future threats, it is certainly viable to map out possible occurrences.

With this in mind, we look at what some of the industry's more prescient security experts expect to see next year.

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War, what is it good for?

So much talk this year focused on Stuxnet. Whilst Microsoft has patched up all the holes Stuxnet was exploiting and the incredibly sophisticated piece of kit has been outed, what it made clear was that nation states are getting serious about cyber warfare.

Now Stuxnet has made its mark, it would not be a huge surprise if a country's critical infrastructure was impacted in a major way in 2011. Indeed, Websense said similar exploits will be carried out once or twice in 2011.

Whilst copycats will not be hugely prevalent next year, they could certainly be trickier to detect.

"Compared to the number of more traditional cyber criminal attacks that will occur, those with Stuxnet's level of sophistication will be few and far between," said Alexander Gostev, chief security expert at Kaspersky Lab.

"However, when they do, they will be potentially far harder to detect and as they are unlikely to affect the average user, the majority of victims are unlikely to ever know they have been targeted."

Nevertheless, nations will be busy shoring up their security across departments next year and preparing their armies to make strikes against hostile nations.

Hacktivism

Tech portmanteaus are often irritating beasts but there is something rather cool about hacktivism' it just seems to fit.

Anyone involved in the Anonymous hacktivist group was no doubt clinking champagne glasses when New Year's Eve rolled around after a 2010 in which they made headline news for their pro-WikiLeaks DDoS attacks.

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Anonymous hackers were also involved in attacks on anti-piracy sites, so expect their work to continue in any left-wing agenda that goes under their radar. No doubt as the WikiLeaks saga runs on, other firms who pull the plug from Julian Assange's operation will be on the wrong end of a DDoS strike.

"Despite hasty attempts in many countries to pass legislation to counter this type of activity, effectively by criminalising it, we believe that in 2011 there will be yet more cyber protests, organised by this group or others that will begin to emerge," Panda said.

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