Researchers Expect a Cyber Espionage Blitz in 2011

Friday, December 31, 2010



Researchers at McAfee have issued warnings that companies in the defense industry can expect to be under constant assault by countries engaged in cyber espionage.

The report cites Operation Aurora, which successfully infested systems at dozens of companies, as being typical of the Advanced Persistent Threats (APT) that can be expected in 2011.

“Companies of all sizes that have any involvement in national security or major global economic activities — even peripherally, such as a law firm advising a corporate conglomerate starting business in another country — should expect to come under pervasive and continuous APT attacks that go after email archives, document stores, intellectual property repositories, and other databases,” the report states.

Of particular concern is the increased use of social networks for researching and breaching targets by way way of "spear-phishing" exploits.

Cyber spies can use social engineering tactics to plant malware by in the computers of key defense company employees by first targeting close contacts in their social network or by crafting spoofed messages that appear to be from trusted sources.

The extensive biographical and lifestyle information that can be garnered from social networks will aid cyber spies in their efforts to make malware laden communications seem innocuous.

“Social media connections will eventually replace email as the primary vector for distributing malicious code and links,” the report states.

The report also notes companies can expect a deluge of malicious applications aimed at garnering sensitive data from mobile devices.

Threats may be from applications specifically designed to glean data, or from poorly designed applications that leave devices vulnerable.


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