Smartphones, Tablets, Android Are Why Malware Is Going Mobile in 2012

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For years, computer users have had to worry mainly about the biggest security threats hitting their desktop computers and applications. But cyber-criminals increasingly have been turning their sites on mobile devices and Web applications as fertile new ground for lucrative for cyber-attacks.

It wont happen overnight, of course, and there will still be more than enough security flaws impacting Windows and other desktop platforms to keep companies like Symantec and McAfee in business for years to come. But mobile device users should start believing security applications are as much a requirement for them as they are for desktop computer users.

Cybercriminals have spent the past several years developing new attack strategies for mobile applications and devices. And this year, theyre going to try to break in every chance they get.

Read on to find out why security threats are increasingly going mobile this year.

1. Windows 8s security

According to Microsoft and the security researchers that have tried out Windows 8, the operating system will be the best yet at protecting users. In fact, some say that all users will need is Microsofts own security suite to safeguard their computers. Thats a major development in the Windows ecosystem. If Microsoft can actually deliver on those lofty promises it might shift cyber-criminals attention from the desktop to online target. But a really secure Windows 8 could go a long way toward showing the industry at large how to build security into mobile and Web applications as well as desktop applications.

2. Cloud services are a cash cow

Cloud services are a potential cash cow for cybercriminals. In enterprise-focused applications, they can include everything from bank information and social security numbers to just about anything else. Whats worse, enterprises and consumers accessing cloud applications are placing all their hope in the service provider to protect their data when there is a serious risk that cloud services can be penetrated by cyber criminals who could reap boatloads of cash from stolen information.

3. Social networks are too

As the Koobface worm has proven, theres an inordinate amount of money in targeting social networking users. A new report from the New York Times claims the people allegedly behind Koobface generated millions of dollars just by taking aim at social network users. Security experts say that the cybercriminals behind Koobface are still active and its likely that they or copycat hackers will launch new Koobface variants or Koobface-like attacks this year.
4. Android use is exploding

Unfortunately, Android has quickly become an easy target for malicious hackers around the world. The operating system is the most popular mobile OS for cybercriminals, and in 2012, most security researchers believe that trend will only continue. So, why is that happening? For one thing, the operating system doesnt have all the safeguards found in, say, BlackBerry OS. Whats more, a tremendous number of people are adopting the software each day. That presents an ever larger and highly-lucrative target  for cybercriminals. Keep that in mind.

5. Apps are easy entryways

After Apple launched the App Store and other companies followed suit, smartphone owners around the world assumed that they could download any program to their mobile devices with complete confidence and safety. But as last years Android Market infiltrations showed, thats simply not the case. Even so, users dont realize the threats associated with apps, and how easily they can be used against them. Even text-messaging applications can deliver malicious payloads. Apps are a unique and hugely profitable opportunity for cybercriminals, and this year, theyre not going to let that slip by.

6. Where are all the security apps?

Interestingly, security companies have been somewhat slow to deliver mobile anti-malware applications to safeguard  mobile devices. The big firms, like McAfee, offer some apps, of course, but as with early Windows software, they dont appear to be keeping up as well as they could with all the threats out there. Even cloud  security solutions are sub-par. Its about time the security community gets far more serious about protecting people both online and on the Web.

7. User ignorance is a factor

Its no secret that one of the main reasons Windows became such a security hole was that its users let it happen. Too often, PC owners dont update security software, go to malicious sites, and trust sources that they shouldnt. In the mobile and online world, things are even worse. Unfortunately, people have been conditioned to believe that the real threats are on Windows, when in reality, theyre also present on the Web and in mobile operating systems. Study after study has shown that people are especially not diligent when using a smartphone. This year, cybercriminals will capitalize on that in a big wayand well all rue the day we failed to acknowledge the importance of security no matter where we are.

8. The enterprise is moving there

If history is to be our guide, it will show that whenever the enterprise goes to a new technology or service, cybercriminals will follow. Now, the enterprise is shifting to mobile products, like the iPhone and iPad, and cloud services. Seeing a potential cash windfall, cybercriminals are pouncing. Make no mistake, the enterprises shift to the Web and mobile is having a profound impact on cybercriminals doing the same.

9. Solutions are few and far between

Just about everywhere one turns, theyll find a security company or analyst talking about the increased threats well be facing in the coming months. But at what point do all those analysts and researchers deliver a solution to safeguard users? Sure, theres security software and other online safeguard mechanisms, but its not enough. Solutions are needed to identify cybercriminals, anticipate their actions and respond with a way to stop it.

10. The opportunities are endless

The move to mobile and cloud computing has given an endless universe of inviting targets, No computing device connected to the Internet is immune. New opportunities for cybercriminals to target users are nearly endless. Should they go after us via e-mail or hacked Web sites, SMS messaging or with malware-tainted apps? How about social networks? Mobile devices and the Web provide an endless array of opportunities to hit us. The challenge is for the technology industry to find innovative and broad solutions to the ever-expanding array of cyber-threats.

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