Internet Security Trends 2009: An Interim Update

Symantec's Zulfikar Ramzan checks in on last year's predictions and IDs emerging trends in malware, phishing, spam and more

The effects of cybercrime are far reaching. It would be a difficult task to find someone who has never been affected by malicious Internet activity, or who does not at the very least know someone who has been negatively impacted by cybercriminals.

Advances in Internet technology and services continue to open up innumerable opportunities for learning, networking and increasing productivity. However, malware authors, spammers and phishers are also rapidly adopting new and varied attack vectors. If the Internet is to become a safer place, it is imperative to understand the trends and developments taking place in the Internet threat landscape and maintain online security best practices.

In December 2008, Symantec researchers predicted a number of security trends to watch out for in 2009. Now that we are into the second half of the year, it's time to check in on those predictions to see not only how they have panned out, but also what other developments have occurred. What follows is an update on the predictions Symantec made late last year, as well as a few new trends that our analysts have seen develop in the first half of 2009.

A Trends Predictions Check Up

Attackers take advantage of the economic crisis

The global economic recession has been one of the most noticeably exploited bases for attack in 2009. Its impact has been far-reaching and the computer industry is far from immune to its affects. Schemes and scams targeting victims of the recession and touting solutions to its problems are prevalent. Some of the threats are new and some have been around for awhile. These scams include:

* Home foreclosure scams

* Scams targeting people seeking mortgages or refinancing

* Scams exploiting the U.S. economic stimulus packages

* Scams targeting the unemployed with offers almost too good to resist

* Attacks seeking to exploit users of classifieds and online job placement boards

* "Work at home" schemes

Social networking becomes an even more popular attack vector

There's no question that online social networking continues to rise in popularity due to the numerous conveniences and opportunities it provides. There's also no question that social networking provides phishers with a lot more bait than they used to have. Threats can come from all sorts of avenues within a social networking site. Games, links and notifications are the low-hanging fruit for phishers to use as they lead people into dangerous territory. As society picks up one end of the social networking stick, it finds that it inevitably picks up the security problems on the other end.

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