The Future of Malware: We Have Nothing To Look Forward To

You might think that malware threats are scary now, but believe me, they're only going to get worse. You can look forward to, or more likely dread, such wonders as smartphone worms, social attacks, and whales (not the kind that people want to save).

Jeff Vance provides a taste of things to come in an article on Network World. "It's only going to get worse as more information gets dumped online by mischievous hacker groups like Anonymous, and as for-profit hackers widen their horizons to include smartphones and social media."

They'll also narrow their horizons, with special attacks aimed at the juiciest targets. You've heard of phishing, which attempts to trick suckers into giving important information to criminals masquerading as trustworthy companies. But some suckers are more profitable than others, and why phish for minnows when you can target whales? Vance describes "a recent attack attempt where the bad guys targeted executives of a major corporation through their spouses. The logic was that at least one executive would have a poorly secured PC at home shared with a non-tech savvy spouse, which would then provide the backdoor needed to compromise the executive and gain access into the target company."

Maybe you're not a big enough target to worry about Ahab's harpoon. But if you have, or will soon have, a smartphone, the dangers will just keep rising. Today's mobile malware is platform dependent; you can't infect a Blackberry with an Android Trojan. But experts are now predicting "platform-agnostic, web-based worms represent the new frontier of malware." These thieving little programs will depend on cross-platform standards like HTML and XML. You'll be making more and more purchases via smartphone in the future, "and if there's one trait you can count on in cyber-criminals, it's that they're eager to follow the money."

Except when they aren't. In addition to the cyber-thugs only interested in money, we're seeing more politically-motivated hacking. Groups like Anonymous have idealistic reasons to steal information, but that doesn't mean that your data will be safe.

What can you do about this dystopian future aside from moving to a cave? The good news is that as the attacks evolve, so will the tools that can protect you. In other words, you need Trend Micro's Titanium 2012 now, but you're going to need Titanium 2013, 2014, and 2015 down the road.

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