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Trend Micro forecasts future threats

Cloud computing and virtualization are two technologies that cybercriminals may target more heavily next year, predicts security firm Trend Micro in a new report.

Cloud computing and virtualization are just two technologies that cybercriminals are anxious to exploit, forecasts a report released Wednesday by security vendor Trend Micro.

The year ahead offers new opportunities for cybercrooks as they hunt for more targets and new challenges as people try to protect themselves, says Trend Micro's 2010 Future Threat Report (PDF).

Cloud computing and virtualization can be cost effective. But since they're beyond the confines of a company's own firewall, they could be potentially open areas for cybercriminals to attack. October's Sidekick data outage highlighted the vulnerabilities of the cloud, which cybercrooks are likely to abuse, according to Trend Micro.

Social networks have proved to be an appealing area for bad guys, a shift that Trend Micro thinks will increase through the use of social engineering. Cybercrooks will try to enter people's communities and circles of friends at sites like Facebook in an attempt to steal personal information.

Malware outbreaks will shift from the global landscape to more local, targeted attacks, similar to the strategy employed by Conficker, which Trend Micro calls a "carefully orchestrated and architected attack."

Trend Micro also believes the move toward international domain names orchestrated by ICANN will open up the playing field for more phishing attacks as crooks create look-alike domains names using the Cyrillic alphabet instead of Latin characters.

A few other trends for 2010 and beyond to keep us all on the alert:

  • Windows 7 will have an impact since it is less secure than Vista in the default configuration (presumably because User Access Control (UAC) in Win 7 is not set to its most restrictive level by default).
  • Drive-by infections are the norm--one Web visit is enough to get infected.
  • Malware is changing its shape--every few hours.

To protect yourself, Trend Micro dispenses the usual advice we've all heard before. But it bears repeating--keep your PC patched and updated, don't click on strange e-mail attachments, make sure the online stores you shop at are secure (https vs http), and don't use the same password for all Web sites.