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Twenty-Four Seven Security

Peter Schooff

Hacker, Inc. vs. You -- Future Trends in Security

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In a disturbing trend for the future of computer security, gone are the days of the lone hacker sitting in their basement looking to write the killer code that would one day make them famous, or better yet, infamous. Instead, they have been replaced by whole networks of organized hackers who quality test their efforts for maximum damage and also offer software updates and tips to other hackers using their programs. Why, you ask?

The answer is simple: money. No longer do hackers dream of making their name simply by hacking, but instead want to make their name the old fashion way: steal your money. And to do that requires a high level of expertise and professionalism, and as reported by Eweek, it represents the central threat against the future of computer security.

That means malware will become increasingly sophisticated as it searches for ever newer ways to hide inside seemingly legitimate applications and steal your vital information. Phishing schemes, or fake emails connected to fake sites that often look incredibly legitimate and try to trick you into giving out financial or password information, are also expected to proliferate.

As reported by McAfee Labs, another threat expected to rise in 2007 is the use of potentially unwanted programs to put adware on users' PCs. These usually advertise themselves as simple games or helpful applications, but serve as a backdoor for all sorts of nasty software.

Botnets are expected to continue proliferating. Their success in spreading spam means they will probably be enlisted to carry out much worse crimes, as the fact that they comprise an entire network of computers makes it difficult to track down the source of the cyber-crime.

And with the explosive growth of video sharing and peer-to-peer sites, we can certainly expect malware writers to start focusing more of their efforts on them as well. MPEG files, which play video, are considered to become one of the major system for malware delivery to your computer. The recent discovery of the W32.Realor worm virus, hidden in media files, only confirms that.

Also, file-sharing sites continue to prove the adage that free is rarely if ever free. Nearly one third of all files on LimeWire and BitTorrent held hidden website redirects, although few of the files were found to be malicious. But I think the lesson to learn is, with Hacker Inc. now in business, don't expect the era of harmless hacks to last long.

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Peter Schooff's blog is a daily look at what's going on in the world of computer security with an emphasis on how it affects businesses.

Peter Schooff

Peter Schooff is Contributing Editor at ebizQ, and manager of the ebizQ Forum. Contact him at pschooff@techtarget.com

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