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With 2009 coming to an end, it's that time of year when security experts start predicting what the (very near) future will hold in terms of likely threat landscapes. One has bucked the trend of just picking on botnet growth and SEO poisoning, although both are on its list, and instead highlighted the dangers of cloud computing and non-Latin domain names.

In a report predictably called Predictions 2010, M86 Security reveals its expectations for Web and messaging-based threats for the coming year based upon extensive research into current threat over the past year coupled with an analysis of the major vulnerabilities facing organisations.

So let's have a look at what popped up when these security experts rubbed their virtual crystal balls shall we?

1. Setting Sights on SaaS and Cloud Services

Cloud computing and SaaS have exploded in popularity during 2009, leading to a vast increase in service offerings. As a result, more and more corporate data is being stored outside of the network, making it difficult for IT administrators to have direct control over the data. In 2010, cybercriminals will target the larger cloud-based providers and attacks will increase.

2. International Domain Name Abuse

In 2009, ICANN approved the registration of Internationalised Domain Names, enabling the use of non-Latin characters in domain names. As a result, phishing attacks should rise, as cybercriminals can register phony Web sites with URLs that are nearly indistinguishable from legitimate ones.

3. Evolution of Web Site Infections

The standard attack vector for cybercriminals is to compromise legitimate Web sites to spread malware. In 2010, the majority of malicious behaviour will reside on legitimate Web sites that have been compromised by various scripts and worms.

4. Exploiting Third Party Applications

Cybercriminals commonly exploit highly deployed third party applications, such as Adobe Flash and Acrobat Reader. The ability to embed one file type in another will result in more complex attacks gaining popularity in 2010, due to the ability to evade detection mechanisms.

5. Attacking Application Programming Interfaces

Social networks such as Twitter and Facebook are extending their services for third party development through the use of application programming interfaces (APIs). There is an implicit level of trust provided through the use of APIs, granting access to user profiles and data, so the threats that target them are likely to increase in 2010.

6. URL Shortening Services Hide Nefarious Means

The popularity of Twitter and link sharing has given rise to URL shortening services that reduce the number of characters needed to parse a link. However, these services enable cybercriminals to spread spam and malware by obfuscating the destination of posted links.

7. Botnets Grow in Sophistication

Botnets continue to be a major problem, driving the majority of spam output and mass Web site attacks. Botnets have moved away from traditional IRC-based command and control, in favour of HTTP or other custom protocols, utilising Twitter, Google and Facebook.

8. Continued Rise of Scareware

Scareware is a traditional tactic that grew popular in the second half of 2009 because its effectiveness. Consumers are prompted to download malicious software through convincingly crafted anti-malware landing pages. In 2010, these attacks should escalate, as the look and feel of scareware pages get updated and criminals find new ways to reach users.

9. Poisoning Search Engine Results

A growing trend is the use of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) techniques to drive users to Web pages hosting malicious code. Also known as SEO poisoning, the technique aims to elevate malicious landing pages in search engine results rankings to ensure a steady supply of victims. The technique is commonly paired with scareware to capitalise on users trust in search engines.

As Editorial Director and Managing Analyst with IT Security Thing I am putting more than two decades of consulting experience into providing opinionated insight regarding the security threat landscape for IT security professionals. As an Editorial Fellow with Dennis Publishing, I bring more than two decades of writing experience across the technology industry into publications such as Alphr, IT Pro and (in good old fashioned print) PC Pro. I also write for SC Magazine UK and Infosecurity, as well as The Times and Sunday Times newspapers. Along the way I have been honoured with a Technology Journalist of the Year award, and three Information Security Journalist of the Year awards. Most humbling, though, was the Enigma Award for 'lifetime contribution to IT security journalism' bestowed on me in 2011.

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Last Post by tocopherol
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Very informative and technical article. Read it completely. But may I knw is that true about twitter url shortening method what you wrote in article.

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Most of them can be avoided in some way or other, what concerns me is International Domain Name Abuse, how are they gonna handle it?

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