2011: Malware Targets Your Friends, Your Pocket, and Your Apple

ipad_jobsMcAfee recently released it’s threat predictions for 2011 (PDF). Among the forecast for 2011:

  • Social Media including Facebook, Twitter and instant messaging will distribute more malware than email. Related are short URL service abuses, and personalized attacks that appear to originate from your friends. Think twice before clicking a short URL to open that video your Facebook friend sent you. If you’re required to install something to view the video, it’s almost certainly malware.
  • Mobile malware has been predicted for some time. Could 2011 be the year mobile malware makes its presence felt? Smartphone use has exploded, for both personal and  business use. Rootkits and botnets are making their way onto these mobile devices. They are attractive targets. Not only are the devices used for banking and online access, but the camera and microphone can be hijacked as well. If malware has “root” access on your phone, chances are it has access to your email, Facebook, contacts, even GPS location.

  • Is 2011 the year we’ll see a major Apple malware threat? OSX and iOS have not been frequent targets of malware writers. Increasing market share, as well as adoption by business is likely to change that. Threats are so rare that Apple has taken a policy of issuing patches to deal with them. They issued a rare single patch just last week, which indicates it was a serious threat. This is not a practical solution to a widespread malicious outbreak exploiting a new vulnerability.

In just a few clicks cybercriminals can see in real time who is tweeting and where, what they are saying, what their interests are, and the operating systems and applications they are using. It then becomes child’s play to craft a targeted attack based upon what the bad guys have just learned from these services.

Interesting to read malware predictions that don’t mention Microsoft Windows even once. Microsoft got security right in Windows Vista. Even better, and less intrusive in Windows 7. Especially the 64-bit versions. If you’re still running Windows XP, seriously consider 2011 the year you upgrade to Windows 7. However, it also shows the lessening importance of the operating system, and the Wintel platform.