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What will the real cyber security threats be in 2013?

December 19th, 2012

security1Which cyber attacks to you have to worry about most in 2013?

While cloud exploits, mobile device attacks and all-out cyber war are some on the horizon, the “Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report” sees other data threats as more likely.

It discounts the possibility of all-out cyber war and says several threats, not particularly new, pose more risk than those cited.

The number one risk – with a whopping 90 percent chance of probability – are attacks related to authentication, such as stolen user names and passwords, which often open the door to cyber crime.

We’ve seen that here at the TechJournal, where an unauthenticated user managed to get admin privileges, causing no end of trouble.

Nine of ten breaches involve authentication

“Nine out of 10 intrusions involved compromised identifies or authentication systems, so enterprises need to make sure they have a sound process for creating, managing and monitoring user accounts and credentials for all of  their systems, devices and networks,” Wade Baker, principal author of the Verizon report said.

Change those passwords to your content management systems and FTP setup at least every three months and use some security system that alerts you to problems before you get Google’s dreaded malware warning slapped on your site.

Also, once cyber crooks breach your site or company, they pass the information around through hacker networks. We’ve noticed them continuing to attempt to breach plugins we’ve removed, photos we’ve deleted, and failed logins at the TechJournal.

Verizon’s RISK team has identified the following most likely data threats: 

  • Web application exploits which are most likely to affect larger organizations and especially governments, rather than small to medium-sized businesses. The chances of such attacks occurring are three in four, according to the data compiled by the RISK Team.  “Given these odds, organizations that choose to take their chances and ignore secure application development and assessment practices in 2013 are asking for trouble,” said Baker.
  • Social engineering, which targets people rather than machines and relies on clever — and sometimes clumsy — deceptions to be successful.  “The use of social tactics like phishing increases by a factor of three for larger enterprises and governments,” said Baker. “It’s impossible to eliminate all human error or weaknesses from an organization, but vigilance and education across the employee population help to control and contain such schemes.”

Baker also said that targeted attacks from adversaries motivated by espionage and hacktivism — breaking into a computer system, for a politically or socially motivated purpose — will continue to occur, so “it’s critical to be watchful on this front.”

In addition, the RISK team does not foresee the failure of an organization’s cloud technology or configuration as being the root cause of a breach. However, an organization’s service provider could inadvertently increase the likelihood of a breach by failing to take appropriate actions or taking inappropriate ones.

As for mobile devices, the Verizon researchers believe that lost and stolen – and unencrypted — mobile devices will continue to far exceed hacks and malware.

Mobile attacks will follow mobile payments push

The RISK Team also projects that attacks on mobile devices by the criminal world will follow closely the push to mobile payments in the business and consumer world.  “There’s a good chance we’ll see this shift in 2013, but our researchers think mobile devices as a breach vector in larger enterprises will lag beyond 2013,” Baker said.

Large organizations tend to pride themselves on their security strategy and accompanying plans, but the reality is that a large business is less likely to discover a breach itself than to be notified by law enforcement.  “And if you do discover it yourself,” Baker said, “chances are it will be by accident.”  He concluded:

“Keep in mind that all of these breaches can still be an issue for enterprises. However, what we’re saying is that they’re over-hyped according to our historical data and are far less likely to factor into an organization’s next breach than is commonly thought.”

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