13 December 2013: Kaspersky Lab which happens to be the world’s largest privately held vendor of endpoint protection solutions have already made their predictions regarding developments and emerging trends in the cyberspace matrix entering the business year of 2014. Not surprisingly, much of what they have seen in their crystal balls is linked to the fall-out from Edward Snowden’s revelations.
The forecast reads in the order that Cybercriminals will go on to target:-
- Client privacy
Following the developments which shaped after the Snowden scandal of 2013, people the world over remain determined to keep their private life under wraps despite the presence of intelligence agencies globally which means protecting the information stored unto their computers and devices while ensuring that their online activities remains confidential. This necessity will lead to greater popularity for VPN services and Tor-anonymizers coupled with increased demand for local encryption tools.
In 2014, Kaspersky Lab’s experts anticipate the possible situation which facilitates cybercriminals to continue developing their tools in order to steal cash – directly or indirectly. To plunder pockets directly, these fraudsters will further refine their tools etched to access the bank accounts of mobile device owners (instances being mobile phishing, banking Trojans). The threats range from Mobile botnets being bought and sold and also used to distribute malicious attachments on behalf of third parties. To patronise the indirect thefts, it is likely that the technological landscape will bear testimony to more sophisticated versions of the Trojans at the offing which encrypt the data on mobile devices, preventing access to photos, contacts and correspondence until a decryption fee is handed over. Android-based smartphones will no doubt be the first to be targeted.
In 2014 Kaspersky Lab’s pundits do expect considerable growth in the number of attacks targeting Bitcoin users’ wallets, Bitcoin pools coupled with stock exchanges.
Business for Internet service providers
A mélange of popular Internet services have already announced the implementation of additional measures to protect user data, for instance, encryption of all data transmitted between their own servers. At this slot, the implementation involving more sophisticated protection measures will ensue and is likely to become a vital factor when users need to choose between rival web services.
- Cloud storage providers
Hackers are targeting cloud service employees, seeing them as the weakest link in the security chain. A successful attack at this juncture could literally hand over cybercriminals the keys to huge volumes of data. In addition to the issue involving data theft, attackers from their quarter may be interested in deleting or modifying information – while, in some cases manipulated misinformation could be worth even more to those who commission the attacks. This is again an on-going trend.
Snowden’s leaks have demonstrated that one of the goals of cyber espionage between states is to provide economic aid to “friendly” companies. This factor has broken down ethical barriers which initially restrained business from using unconventional methods to compete with their rivals. In the newly evolved realities of cyberspace, businesses are contemplating the sheer possibility of conducting this kind of activity for themselves. Taking a cue from these developments, Companies will employ cyber-mercenaries, organized groups of qualified hackers who can offer bespoke cyber-espionage services.
The theft of popular product sources (gaming industry, mobile apps developers, etc.) provides attackers an excellent opportunity to find vulnerabilities in the products concerned and then to use them for their own fraudulent purposes. In addition, if cybercriminals have access to the victim’s repositories, they can alter the program source code and embed backdoors into the same.
All said and done, the World Wide Web forecast in the wake of these growing trends can be envisioned, thus:-
“The Internet has begun to break up into national segments. Snowden’s revelations have intensified the demand for rules prohibiting the use of foreign services. Individual countries are no longer willing to let a single byte of information out of their networks. These aspirations will grow ever stronger and legislative restrictions will inevitably transform into technical prohibitions. The next step will most likely be attempts to limit foreign access to data inside a country. As this trend develops further it may lead at some point to the collapse of the current Internet, which will break into dozens of national networks. The shadowy Darknet then will be the only truly world-wide web”, lipped Alexander Gostev, Chief Security Expert, and Global Research & Analysis Team.
A number of countries have either adopted or planning to adopt legislation prohibiting the use of foreign services. In November, Germany announced that all communications between the German authorities would be fully locked within the country, making the same tamper – proof, that is. Brazil from its part has announced its plans to build an alternative Internet channel so as not to use the one that goes through Florida (USA).