Embedded Systems Under Attack

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Embedded Systems Under Attack

As the number of connected devices continues to grow, researchers have started to pay more attention to the security of embedded computer systems and have discovered all too often that many of these systems were not designed with security in mind. At the Black Hat security conferences over the past two years, there were a number of sessions that touched on examples of this, from a hack against car computers to an exploit of a vulnerable insulin pump. In 2013, expect attackers and researchers alike to continue poking holes in the systems inside common devices.

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DDoS Goes to the Cloud

Distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks have become a favorite weapon for hacktivists. But in 2013, virtualization vendor Incapsula is predicting this activity will have a new twist, as hackers leverage the cloud to launch their attacks. Attackers can do this, the vendor contended, by compromising the accounts of users of cloud services and then using that infrastructure to initiate an attack.

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A Downside to DNNSEC Adoption

According to networking appliance vendor F5 Networks, 2013 will see an increase in Domain Name System (DNS) reflection attacks due to an increased deployment of DNS Security Extensions (DNSSEC), as the DNSSEC protocol response is 10 times the size of the old DNS response. This means that reflection attacks can now be 10 times as volumetric and easier to launch, the company said.

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Social Networks and Money

As social networks look to find ways to monetize their platforms by allowing members to buy and send real gifts, cyber-criminals will look for ways to exploit this for an attack, according to Symantec. "[We anticipate] an increase in malware attacks that steal payment credentials in social networks or trick users into providing payment details, and other personal and potentially valuable information, to fake social networks," the company said.

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Ransomware Continues to Increase

Ransomware has undergone a significant resurgence in 2012, and that will likely continue in the new year. In a recent report entitled "Ransomware: A Growing Menace," Symantec detailed a ransomware operation that pulled in an estimated $394,000 in a month. In 2013, the firm expects attackers to use more professional ransom screens and to update their attacks to make systems harder to recover when compromised.

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Mobile Malware Goes Cross-Platform

From Windows 8 to Google Android to Apple iOS, attackers will be paying close attention to mobile devices next year. Web-based cross-platform exploits will make that easier, predicted Websense. "In 2013, threats to Microsoft mobile devices will see the highest rate of growth," the company said. "Cyber-criminals are similar to legitimate application developers in that they focus on the most profitable platforms. As development barriers are removed, mobile threats will be able to leverage a huge library of shared code."

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Playing Nice in the Sandbox

Researchers at Websense are also predicting that hackers will work their way around virtual environments and sandboxes, with threats more readily able to tell if they are in the sandbox environments used by researchers to study malware as opposed to the malware's targeted victim.

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HTML5 on the Menu

The adoption of HTML5 will lead attackers to pay it more attention. In a presentation at the Black Hat security conference this year, Shreeraj Shah, founder of application security vendor Blueinfy, said that HTML5 opens up new vectors for attack, and the fact that it is new to many developers means many will make mistakes as they use it.

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