For years, computer users' biggest security threats were attacks against their desktop computers and applications. But cyber-criminals increasingly have been turning their sights toward mobile devices and Web applications, as they are fertile new ground for lucrative cyber-attacks.
It won't happen overnight, of course, and there will still be more than enough security flaws impacting Windows and other desktop platforms to keep companies like Symantec and McAfee in business for years to come. But for mobile device users, security applications are as much a requirement for them as they are for desktop computer users.
Cyber-criminals have spent the past several years developing new attack strategies for mobile applications and devices. And this year,they're going to try to break in every chance they get.
Read on to find out why security threats are increasingly going mobile this year.
1. Windows 8's security
According to Microsoft and the security researchers who have tried out Windows 8, the operating system will be the best yet at protecting users. In fact, some say that all users will need is Microsoft's own security suite to safeguard their computers. That's a major development in the Windows ecosystem. If Microsoft can actually deliver on those lofty promises, cyber-criminals may shift their attention from the desktop to online targets. But a really secure Windows 8 could go a long way toward showing the industry at large how to build security into mobile and Web applications as well as desktop applications.
2. Cloud services are a cash cow
Cloud services are a potential cash cow for cyber-criminals. In enterprise-focused applications, they can include bank information and Social Security numbers to just about anything else. What's worse, enterprises and consumers accessing cloud applications are placing all their hope in the service provider to protect their data when there is a serious risk that cloud services can be penetrated by cyber-criminals, who could reap boatloads of cash from stolen information.
3. Social networks are too
As the Koobface worm has proved, there's an inordinate amount of money in targeting social networking users. A new report from the New York Times claims the people allegedly behind Koobface generated millions of dollars just by taking aim at social network users. Security experts say the cyber-criminals behind Koobface are still active and it's likely that they or copycat hackers will launch new Koobface variants or Koobface-like attacks this year.
4. Android use is exploding
Unfortunately,Android has quickly become an easy target for malicious hackers around the world. The operating system is the most popular mobile OS for cyber-criminals, and most security researchers believe that trend will only continue in 2012. So, why is that happening? For one thing, the operating system doesn't have all the safeguards found in, say, BlackBerry OS. What's more, a tremendous number of people are adopting the software each day. That presents an ever larger and highly lucrative target for cyber-criminals. Keep that in mind.