Political hacking to define 2011, McAfee predicts

Security experts at McAfee have stated that the coming year will bring significant problems to those who are charged with protecting data and retaining the integrity of corporate systems, although this time there will be political motivations behind the actions of so-called hacktivists.

In the past cybercriminals have worked purely for financial gain, but since the Wikileaks scandal and the rise of the Anonymous hacktivist group, many public and private sector firms could face disruption which is not founded on traditional goals.

The publication of McAfee’s 2011 Threat Predictions paper brings home warnings about the potential risks facing businesses and organisations who strive for data protection, because attacks will not only come from organised crime groups, but also private citizens who want to leverage the internet to further their political cause.

The proliferation of social networking tools like Twitter is allowing disparate individuals to communicate and organise wider attacks, with big names like Amazon and PayPal both suffering as a result in the final weeks of 2010.

McAfee’s Greg Day spoke to V3.co.uk and explained that 2011 would inevitably see various private companies coming under public scrutiny as a result of their involvement with something like the Wikileaks scandal.

Mr Day is also keen to emphasise that cybercriminals will be very much active in 2011, with new tools of business being leveraged to their advantage. Location-based services which use GPS data generated from mobile devices are thought to be a particular risk, while the exploitation of URL shortening technology will continue to allow the spread of malware via Facebook and Twitter.

Mr Day said that both the criminals and hacktivists would use platforms which have risen in popularity over the past 12 months in order to stay ahead of the game in 2011 and as such security experts have to move with the times and act now in order to ensure protection.

Data loss and security weaknesses relating to social networking are seen as being related hot topics for 2011 and experts urge early preventative action rather than reparative reaction.

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