A report released on Tuesday by security firm McAfee predicts that the top targets for cybercrime in 2011 will include smartphones, geolocation services, URL shorteners and devices that run Apple operating systems. Social networks and Internet TV platforms such as Google TV also made the list of potential threats from online scammers.
“We’ve seen significant advancements in device and social network adoption, placing a bullseye on the platforms and services users are embracing the most,” says Vincent Weafer, senior vice president of McAfee Labs. “These platforms and services have become very popular in a short amount of time, and we’re already seeing a significant increase in vulnerabilities, attacks and data loss.”
As the hottest new services and devices achieve widespread awareness and adoption by users, they also become more likely targets for cybercriminals, warns the report. In the case of URL shorteners, for example, Twitter users have grown so accustomed to them that most people rarely give a second thought before clicking on a link – making them a potentially dangerous vehicle for the spread of viruses and other malicious attacks.
Social networks have been ripe for attacks since their inception because of the open exchange of data between users. But now with the widespread adoption of location services such as Facebook Places and Foursquare during the past year, cybercriminals have gained an even clearer view into users’ whereabouts and interests as well as what operating systems and applications they are using.
Mobile devices, particularly those used on corporate networks and those running Apple OS, are also going to be increasingly hot targets for crime in 2011, according to McAfee.