Cybercrime moving to the cloud in a big way: Report

In 2015 you will see botnets move from the traditional residential Windows/PC-based systems to the cloud and the mobile network.

FP Staff February 16, 2015 14:45:13 IST
Cybercrime moving to the cloud in a big way: Report

About 16 million mobile devices have been infected by malicious software globally in 2014, according to the latest report by Alcatel-Lucent's security arm Motive Security Labs. Such malware is used by "cybercriminals for corporate and personal espionage, information theft, denial of service attacks on business and governments, and banking and advertising scams," the report said.

The report also found that consumers who avoid shopping online out of fear their credit or debit card information may be stolen are actually exposing themselves to greater risk: a rash of retail cyber-security breaches in 2014 were all the result of malware infections on cash registers or point-of-sale terminals, not online stores. This is largely because stolen cards from online retailers are not as valuable to criminals because they can only be used for online purchases.

Cybercrime moving to the cloud in a big way Report

Representational image. Reuters

Such malware infections in mobile devices increased 25 percent in 2014, compared to a 20 percent increase in 2013.

Android devices have now caught up with Windows laptops, which had been the primary workhorse of cybercrime, with infection rates between Android and Windows devices split 50/50 in 2014.

While less than 1 percent of infections come from iPhone and Blackberry smartphones. “The iPhone and Blackberry have a more controlled app distribution environment and are thus less of a target.”

The report highlighted mobile spyware, used to spy on a phone’s owner, is also on the increase. Six of the mobile malware top 20 list are mobile spyware. These are apps that are used to spy on the phone’s owner. They track the phone’s location, monitor ingoing and outgoing calls and text messages, monitor email and track the victim’s web browsing.

High-level threats such as ‘bots’, ‘rootkits’, and ‘banking trojans’ remain steady at around 5 percent.

2014 saw a variety of innovative DDoS attacks (NTP MON_LIST, DNS DDoS using home routers and mobile Wi Fi hotspots), new vulnerabilities and exploits (Heartbleed, ShellShock, Android FakeID), new Apple attacks (WireLurker and Masque), high-profile breaches (Sony, Regin), and new mobile malware (NotCompatible, Koler, hactivism with LOIC).

Based on 2014, the report predicts the following for 2015:

Botnets move to mobile and the cloud: In 2014 residential botnet detections were relatively flat and actually dropped a bit toward the end of the year. In 2015 you will see botnets move from the traditional residential Windows/PC-based systems to the cloud and the mobile network. It is likely more cost effective for cybercriminals to leverage cloud-based server resources and mobile devices to support their spam, DDoS attacks, Ad-click fraud, Bitcoin mining and other illegal activity.

Hactivism goes mobile: Providing a LOIC DDoS app for Android is likely just the start. The mobile phone offers a myriad of opportunities that can be applied to hactivism.

  • Targeted DDoS attacks using SMS and phone services
  • Communications app to support protests. Imagine a movement called “Occupy the Internet.”
  • Cyber terrorism against mobile infrastructure

Internet of Things gets hit: To some extent the Internet of Things has already been involved in attacks. Home routers have always been a target. In 2014 modems and mobile Wi-Fi hotspots were used in DNS DDoS amplification attacks. In 2015 you will see attacks against things like Internet-connected video surveillance equipment, alarm systems, smart meters, and automobiles; and yes — the proverbial smart fridge.

Cloud: Cloud-based services are basically anything that relies on server components on the Internet. These present large targets for DDoS attacks. So, we predict that in 2015 cybercrime is going to move into the cloud in a big way.

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