Post-PC Threat Era Has Arrived

Cybercriminals have moved beyond the PC, targeting smartphones, social media and even the Mac OS X with new attacks, according to Trend Micro’s 2012 Annual Roundup and Mobile Security reports.

The Internet security firm detected 350,000 Android threats in 2012, and predicts that attacks targeted at Android devices will increase to 1 million in 2013. Android malware grew nearly five times faster than PC-based threats, accomplishing in three years what PC threats took 14 years to do.

Java supplanted pure Windows-based threats in the attackers’ crosshairs — leading to, among other things, the first widespread attack against the Mac. Social media platforms continued to grow as areas of concern with attackers targeting them more, users putting themselves at risk by oversharing on them, and legitimate services being co-opted to support cybercriminal activities.

Enterprises and organizations suffered from data breaches and targeted attacks at an alarming rate. In one incident alone, the Global Payments data breach, costs have already reached $94 million and are still climbing. Targeted attacks are being helped along by the “children of STUXNET” — attack code and kits such as Flame, Duqu and Gauss that are derived from the STUXNET attack three years ago.

Attackers adopted more professional software development practices rather than introducing new attacks. The Blackhole Exploit Kit (BHEK), Automatic Transfer Systems (ATSs) and Ransomware were all refined and improved with new features.

Trend Micro offers these tips to IT managers who must combat these risks:

  • Mobile Threats: Educate employees on how to secure their personal mobile devices. Develop a plan for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) and limit access to sensitive data. Implement a BYOD infrastructure that includes mobile device management (MDM) and security products.
  • Targeted Attacks and Data Breaches: Develop local and external threat intelligence and educate employees against social engineering attacks. Implement comprehensive data protection and management solutions, and security solutions that guard against Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs). Develop mitigation and cleanup strategies in case an attack does occur.
  • Cybercrime: Install effective security solutions in all PCs and mobile devices that contain or have access to sensitive information. Deploy a defense-in-depth security practice. Block threats at their source using web, IP and domain reputation technologies. Invest in sandbox technologies to identify advanced malware.
  • Software Vulnerabilities: Deploy vulnerability-shielding solutions that automatically apply patches to help immediately protect networks from emerging exploits.
  • Social Media Threats: Clearly define what company information is considered confidential, and create easy-to-follow guidelines on social media use, information sharing, and representing your company’s brand and image on social media. Monitor employees’ social media use.