In 2012, online phishing attacks targeted banks, e-commerce and information services, besides individuals. Will next year be any different? Online attacks are projected to only increase in 2013 with newer forms of threats becoming mainstream, advisories from Internet security software companies say.
Indians ought to be careful of 'ransomware', for instance, which has spread scare in much of Europe and the United States in 2012.
Ramsomeware is a form of online extortion wherein cyber criminals inject malware onto a victim's computer and encrypt files on the system. The files can only be unlocked when the victim pays a ransom.
One ransomware spreading in Europe and the United States currently is called Reveton and the FBI recently issued a warning.
"In 2013, attackers will use more professional ransom screens, up the emotional stakes to motivate their victims, and use methods that make it harder to recover once compromised," online security software company Symantec says in an advisory.
The company also sees cyber conflicts between nations becoming the norm next year. "Espionage can be successful and also easily deniable when conducted online. Nations or organised groups of individuals will continue to use cyber tactics in an attempt to damage or destroy the secure information or funds of its targets. In 2013, we will see the cyber equivalent of saber rattling, where nation states, organizations, and even groups of individuals use cyber-attacks to show their strength and "send a message," the company notes.
Jagdish Mahapatra, India Managing Director of another online security software company McAfee, forecasts a rise in targeted attacks. "2012 saw an increased growth in targeted attacks that proved successful in disrupting service and fraudulently obtaining significant amounts of intellectual property. We expect cyber criminals will continue to use this method and as a result, in 2013, we are likely to see significantly more targeted attacks and targeted malware. This type of attack is more difficult to protect against. One disturbing development in this trend across 2012 was that we started to see more targeted attacks that also destroyed evidence of the attack afterwards," he says.
McAfee also sees a rise in non-Windows attacks with Android devices soaring in popularity. "Consumers aren't the only ones at risk of mobile threats. Enterprises, particularly those embracing Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), are also at risk. Interestingly, the mobile malware growth rate is similar to what we saw for Windows malware some time ago, which shows it is a genuine threat," Mahapatra adds.
Surely, netizens will have a lot to guard against.