IT security predictions for 2015 by McAfee Labs

McAfee Labs, a part of Intel Security, today announced IT security predictions for 2015.

The Intel company in a statement said that malicious parties will extend their ability to avoid detection over long periods, with non-state actors increasingly adopting cyber espionage capabilities for monitoring and collecting data over extended targeted attack campaigns.

There will be more efforts to identify application, operating system, and network vulnerabilities, and an increasing focus on the limitations of sandboxing technologies as hackers attempt to evade application- and hypervisor-based detection.

# There will be increased use of cyber warfare and espionage tactics. Cyber espionage attacks will continue to increase in frequency as long-term players will become stealthier information gatherers, while newcomers to cyber-attack capabilities will look for ways to steal sensitive information and disrupt their adversaries.

Established nation-state actors will work to enhance their ability to remain hidden on victim systems and networks.

Cybercriminals will act more like nation-state cyber espionage actors, focusing on monitoring systems and gathering high-value intelligence on individuals, intellectual property, and operational intelligence.

More small nation states and terror groups will use cyber warfare.

# Internet of Things (IoT) faces more attack in terms of frequency, profitability, and severity. Unless security controls are built-in to their architectures from the beginning, the rush to deploy IoT devices at scale will outpace the priorities of security and privacy. This rush and the increasing value of data gathered, processed, and shared by these devices will draw the first notable IoT paradigm attacks in 2015.

The proliferation of IoT devices in environments such as health care could provide malicious parties access to personal data even more valuable than credit card data.

According to the McAfee Labs report, the cybercrime community currently values stolen health credentials at around $10 each, which is about 10 to 20 times the value of a stolen U.S. credit card number.

Cyber Security

# Privacy debates will intensify. Data privacy will be a hot topic as governments and businesses continue to grapple with what is fair and authorized access to inconsistently defined personal information.

In 2015, the industry will see discussion and lack of clarity around what constitutes personal information and to what extent that information may be accessed and shared by state or private actors.

The industry will see a continued evolution in scope and content of data privacy rules and regulations, we may even see laws begin to regulate the use of previously anonymous data sets.

The European Union, countries in Latin America, as well as Australia, Japan, South Korea, Canada, and many others may enact more stringent data privacy laws and regulations.

# Ransomware is evolving into the cloud. Ransomware will evolve its methods of propagation, encryption, and the targets it seeks. More mobile devices are likely to suffer attacks.

Ransomware variants that manage to evade security software installed on a system will specifically target endpoints that subscribe to cloud-based storage solutions.

Once the endpoint has been infected, the ransomware will attempt to exploit the logged-on user’s stored credentials to also infect backed-up cloud storage data.

The technique of ransomware targeting cloud-backed-up data will be repeated in the mobile space.

There will be a continued rise in mobile ransomware using virtual currency as the ransom payment method.

# There will be new mobile attack and capabilities. Mobile attacks will grow rapidly as new mobile technologies expand the attack surface.

The growing availability of malware-generation kits and malware source code for mobile devices will lower the barrier to entry for cybercriminals targeting these devices.

Untrusted app stores will be a major source of mobile malware. Traffic to these stores will be driven by malvertising, which has grown quickly on mobile platforms.

# POS attacks increase and evolve with digital payments. Point of sale (POS) attacks will remain lucrative, and a significant upturn in consumer adoption of digital payment systems on mobile devices will provide new attack surfaces that cybercriminals will exploit.

Despite current efforts by retailers to deploy more chip-and-pin cards and card readers, McAfee Labs sees continued growth in POS system breaches in 2015 based on the sheer numbers of POS devices that will need to be upgraded in North America.

Near field communications (NFC) digital payment technology will become an entirely new attack surface to exploit, unless user education can successfully guide users in taking control of NFC features on their mobile devices.

# Shellshock sparks Unix, Linux attacks. Non-Windows malware attacks will increase as a result of the Shellshock vulnerability.

The aftershocks of Shellshock with be felt for many years given the number of potentially vulnerable Unix or Linux devices, from routers to TVs, industrial controllers, flight systems, and critical infrastructure.

In 2015, this will drive a significant increase in non-Windows malware as attackers look to exploit the vulnerability.

# There will be growing exploitation of software flaws. The exploitation of vulnerabilities is likely to increase as new flaws are discovered in popular software products.

Exploitation techniques such as stack pivoting, return- and jump-oriented programming, and a deeper understanding of 64-bit software will continue to drive the growth in the number of newly discovered vulnerabilities, as will the volume of malware that exploits those newly discovered vulnerabilities.

# There will be new evasion tactics for sandboxing. Escaping the sandbox will become a significant IT security battlefield.

Vulnerabilities have been identified in the sandboxing technologies implemented with critical and popular applications. McAfee Labs predicts a growth in the number of techniques to exploit those vulnerabilities and escape application sandboxes.

Beyond application sandboxing, McAfee Labs predicts that 2015 will bring malware that can successfully exploit hypervisor vulnerabilities to break out of some security vendors’ standalone sandbox systems.

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