Computer Crime Research Center


Computer crime: who is the next victim?

Date: November 22, 2005

It is not new news that cell phones and personal digital assistants (PDAs) are subject to malware threats. But given the average consumer's lax approach to security in the networked world, coupled with the rise in identity theft, extortion, and fraud, it is fair to say a new chapter in the cyber-crime saga is set to unfold.

Last September, the results from Symantec Corp.'s "Internet Security Threat Report Volume VIII -- The Changing Threat Landscape" reported global phishing threats continued to increase in volume and have begun focusing on smaller and regional targets over the past six months.

That report marked a shift in the threat landscape, said Dean Turner, senior manager, Symantec Security Response in Calgary. Attackers are moving away from large, multi-purpose attacks on network perimeters in favour of smaller, more focused attacks on client-side targets, he said. The new threat landscape features emerging threats such as bot networks, customizable modular malicious code, and targeted attacks on Web applications (for instance, HotMail) and Web browsers.

Without tipping his hat, Turner said Symantec's next threat report, due out in the coming months, would offer an in-depth view on the vulnerabilities of each popular Web browser. In the meantime, he told eChannelLine of one possible looming threat due to consumers' having a false sense of security when it comes to cell phones and PDAs.

"People don't seem to make the connection that cell phones are a networked device," he said. "We've gotten that far in terms of laptops, but users do need to become aware of the fact that a cell phone too is a networked device."

Discussing in Toronto recently what Symantec anticipates for 2006 -- coming to infect a device near you -- Turner said e-mail scams such as phishing is projected to rise and spIM (spam over instant messaging) would become more prevalent.
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