Stay Safe and Secure in 2011

Webster Consulting have published several warnings for what threats to look out for in 2011. It’s a bit like picking the winning lottery numbers however we think the warnings are serious enough to publish on our blog. This year is sure to be another big year for both users and cyber criminals as we continue to battle our way toward a safer and more secure Internet.

Last year showed that government, industry and security experts worldwide are making a serious attempt to create a unified front against cyber criminals. But we also need to defend ourselves as users and as businesses, and there we still have a long way to go.

More than 2.5 million US households had to replace their computers after they were infected with viruses and spyware last year. Identity theft continues to rise because of how easily cyber thieves can steal it, sell it, and get away with it.

While smart phones are taking over many of the functions of a computer, few users have installed even basic mobile security. Meanwhile in the business world, many organisations are relying more on Web-based technologies but aren’t investing in stronger IT defences.

How will we fare against cyber thieves and cyber thugs in 2011?

Lloyd Borrett, Security Evangelist at AVG (AU/NZ), says “If general carelessness continues to reign unabated, we’re in for another bumpy ride. Hackers are simple creatures, really. They will go where the money is and follow the path of least resistance to get there. If users continue not to take heed, it’s easy to predict 2011’s top five greatest threats:”

#5: The cloud
Another big year for cloud computing translates into a growing opportunity for cyber criminals and hackers. In 2011, cloud computing will be embraced by more businesses and consumers alike. It is inevitable that hackers will turn their attention to data-rich warehouses bursting with information they can steal and profit from. And even if data is secure in how it’s stored, how can we be sure spying eyes aren’t watching as that data is transmitted?

#4: Applications
As long as bugs are found, as long as users don’t regularly update their apps, and as long as users continue to let rogue Trojan horse applications into their castle, applications will be a big thorn in the side of security. In 2010 we saw a huge increase in the frequency and intensity of Adobe Reader, Flash and various Facebook application attacks.

#3: Social search
Don’t know what social search is? You’re not alone. Now that Google indexes Twitter and other user-generated content as it occurs, there is no end to the havoc cyber criminals can create with fake and hijacked accounts spewing misleading malicious links that appear in search streams.Short URL’s used by Tweeters means you cannot see where the link is taking you, so be more wary.

#2: Small businesses
While a growing number of cyber criminals are specifically targeting small businesses, 85 percent of small businesses refuse to see the danger at all. This does not bode well for the Internet community at large as small business owners often do not have proper security policies and enforcement measures that can educate workers how to be safe online and not act in a way that puts the company network at risk.

#1: Mobile devices
In 2011, tablet computers and smart phones will become a more important target for cyber criminals. Mobile devices are constantly connected and substantially less protected than a personal computer as users shrug off mobile security solutions and carelessly broadcast financial, account and other personal data such as their exact location while on the go. That’s why it’s important to protect your smart phones with security software.

I believe we can make the Internet a safer place. My advice to you in the meantime is get smart about Internet security.

What do you think? comments below.

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