McAfee Labs researchers recently published its 2013 Threat Predictions Report which had some very intriguing observations about what the bad guys are planning for the next year. While I found the observations to be critical to my team’s development work, I had one observation of my own: I think people are starting to pay a lot more attention to online security these days.
I think people are starting to pay more attention because the media is paying more attention – and focusing on the subject a bit differently than it had in the past. Today, it seems that instead of focusing on the dramatic after-effects of poor Internet security, the media seems to be staying on top of the trends and reporting the news in a way that educates and prepares the public. I’m especially pleased because providing proactive education is really the lifeblood of McAfee.
Then, I got the call to share some of McAfee’s predictions with ABC 7 News, KGO-TV, San Francisco. It was great. The reporter, Dave Louie, did a very good job extracting the key points from the Threat Predictions Report, asking very relevant questions, and developing the story around some predicted mobile threats. You see, according to our researchers, some of the most destructive threats to consumers will hit them where they practically live and breathe: on mobile phones and tablets.
The story included excellent background on the rise of Internet threats and then focused on the latest mobile malware and how some very common user behavior can result in the propagation of big problems. The new target is the mobile device with near-field communication (NFC) that can now be used as a payment device with a simple swipe. Mobile malware enables the bad guys to then tap into the bank account being accessed by the device – making it easy to steal money and information via tap-and-pay NFC.
And, this same type of malicious code will soon be used to spread the infection whenever it reaches proximity to another mobile device – being called “bump and infect.” The infection just moves from mobile device to mobile device – especially easy to accomplish in very populated places like malls and concerts. It’s a vicious and malicious cycle.
The ABC 7 news report focused mainly on mobile worms and tap-and-pay, but touched on the McAfee Labs’ prediction around mobile phone ransomware “kits” that allow criminals without programming skills to extort payments from unprotected users.
Short interviews and news stories like this one provide very easy-to-digest bits of information to help raise awareness about what users can do to stay protected. To get more details about mobile threats and what else is on the horizon – like large scale network attacks and hacking as a service – take a look at the 2013 Threat Predictions Report.