It’s that time of the year when we get to polish our crystal ball and take a look at what might happen in 2012. Intersections’ Consumer Security Adviser and master predictor of all things security Neal O’Farrell, dusts off his magic wand, adjusts his turban and takes a peek into the future with his 2012 security predictions.
Christmas is a time for tradition, and in the security world one of those traditions is predicting what’s in store for us next year from hackers, scammers and all the other things that go bump on the net.
Perhaps the best way to summarize next year’s threats is more of the same, and here are just a few of my predictions:
• More friends and family fraud, as continued economic hard times force otherwise honest individuals to exploit family credit to pay bills.
• An increase in existing account fraud as financial institutions get better at preventing new account fraud and force thieves to focus on low hanging fruit.
• An increase in child identity theft as thieves become more aware of how hard it is to stop it, and a similar increase in elder financial exploitation as social services for the elderly are cut back.
• An increase in skimming, especially in supermarkets, as thieves rush to take advantage of this vulnerability before chip-and-pin is more widely adopted and makes skimming more difficult.
• A shift from street-level drug dealing to identity theft. This is a worrying trend because it could fuel the growth in identity theft for another decade. The recent Operation Rainmaker in Florida, where local drug dealers joined forces to learn about identity theft and defraud the IRS out of more than $130 million using stolen identities, is a perfect example of this trend.
• A growth in super thieves – low level thieves, like those involved in mail theft or check washing – who are never arrested or investigated, stay off law enforcement’s radar, and only become better, more sophisticated, and able to steal larger amounts without being caught. They take advantage of the fact that law enforcement has largely given up on identity theft.
• An increase in attacks against small businesses because of the wealth of identity information they possess with little protection.
• An increase in tax-related identity theft, as crooks realize how lax IRS security controls are and how easy it is to get a refund using a stolen or “deceased” identity.
• An increase in identity theft malware especially banking Trojans, keyloggers, and Android malware.
• An increase in legislation to protect consumers, and especially data breach legislation.
• Lots of opportunities for hackers to poison search results and take advantage of some big events next year, especially the 2012 Olympic Games starting in July in London, and of course the Presidential election. Both events will provide hackers and scammers with endless opportunities to trick unwary users into falling for some scam or another.
• More infrastructure attacks, targeted at everything from power stations to water treatment plants. Most of the attacks will be probes to test the resilience of these systems to attack.
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