7 Reasons Why Users Need To Rethink Security

2014’s here, and with the new year comes new things that users must be aware of in order to remain safe in this new age of cybercrime.

1. Mobile Banking will be much more dangerous.

Image source: Android Smartphone with Money.jpg by Intel Free Press, used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

More and more people are banking on their mobile phones – nearly one in five users in 2013. And with mobile banking users seen to balloon to over a billion in 2017, you can expect cybercriminals to ramp up their attacks, making regular security measures such as two-step verification ineffective. Consult with your bank for more security options. It’s better to be safer than sorry.

2. There’s a higher chance of downloading a malicious app.

Image source: Assorted_smartphones.jpg By ALT1040, used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

Got an Android smartphone, or a device that has Android in it? Chances are you do – it’s the most popular platform in the market last year, and it looks to be the same this year. That’s why we believe cybercriminals will be making more malicious apps for Android – increasing the total count of the naughty things to 3 million and making it likelier for you to download and install one by mistake. Don’t be a victim - only download from official app stores, and secure your devices ASAP.

3. Gamers may be vulnerable to a completely new type of threat.

Image source: Children playing video games and also the monitor screens or TV’s By Gamesingear, used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

The Steam Machine, a game console by Valve, is set to be released this year with lots of hype and anticipation. We believe that cybercriminals will be watching its popularity very closely, and may in fact create entirely-new threats to take advantage of it (as it’s running on LINUX). We also believe that cybercriminals may seek to infect gamers with bitcoin-mining malware, as gamers usually have souped-up systems that can be used to mine the cryptocurrency. Security for gamers should therefore also be a top priority, not just gameplay.

4. Privacy tools and services will be in high demand.

Image source: A man gagged with tape marked privacy.By Tom Murphy, used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.

Edward Snowden and the NSA controversy made privacy a big issue in the tail end of 2013. We believe that it’s this year that we will see the effect of that incident, with users clamoring for more tools and services that can help protect their privacy. We also believe that many new organizations will inevitably rise to meet that demand. However, this means that cybercriminals may potentially take advantage of this, and flood the market with malicious programs masquerading as privacy/security tools and services.

5. Systems with Windows XP or Java 6 will be open to attacks.

Last year, Microsoft announced that they will be officially ending support for Windows XP. Oracle also announced the same regarding Java 6. What this means is that those software will no longer have patches or fixes made for them. We believe that cybercriminals will take this “perfect storm” of vulnerability to ramp up attacks against systems that have these software installed. Users should do well to either uninstall these software from their systems and upgrade to the latest versions. There is some good news, though – Microsoft had recently announced that they will not stop malware scanning capabilities of XP, so that’s a good thing at least.

6. Socially-engineered scams will be harder to tell from the real thing.

In 2013, we saw more cybercriminal attacks on users that used methods typically seen in targeted attacks – the big ones that are usually aimed towards bigger companies. These attacks involve the cybercriminal scoping out their victim very carefully, in order to make their lure that much more convincing and relevant. We believe that scams hiding behind social engineering will be less “obvious” and more subtle due to this, making them harder to distinguish from legitimate parties. Don’t be fooled – always be vigilant and verify first before doing anything.

7. The Internet of Things is safe for now, but that's no reason to relax.

Image source: Google Glass Explorer Edition by Tedeytan, used under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic license.

With the fad of wearable computing gaining momentum (Google Glass to release this year, along with a host of other smart watches) users are getting more and more connected. We believe that this could potentially create a scenario where cybercriminals take to infecting the computers we’re wearing, but that may be in a few years yet, as the gadgets themselves haven’t quite hit the mainstream. Regardless, anything that you use that connects to the internet SHOULD be secured.



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