Mobile devices, social networks to remain security targets in 2013: Sourcefire

Security vendor expects two key security issues in 2012 to remain prevalent

The greatest challenge for today’s security infrastructure and methods of protection is advanced malware attacks.

When having discussions with customers in 2012, Sourcefire A/NZ regional director, Chris Wood, said they were struggling to find effective protection against these threats “without overburdening or sacrificing operational efficiency.”

“Many malicious threats now hone in on their victims, disguise themselves to evade defenses, hide for extended periods and then launch their attacks at any time,” he said.

Due to this new level of sophistication, Wood expects businesses to look for security solutions that will help combat the threat before, during and after an attack.

The good news is that security technologies will continue to get better at combating threats.

“Such security effectiveness is raising the bar and forcing the bad guys to dig deep and use advanced malware, targeted attacks and new attack vectors to try to circumvent existing protection methods,” Wood said.

Targeting of mobile platforms was a hot topic in the security space in 2012, and as the popularity of mobile devices continue to increase, Wood expects cybercriminals to continue changing their tactics to target consumers are less aware of security risks.

To back up his claim, Wood points out how malware targeting Android based devices has increased, by some accounts, by nearly 500 per cent since 2011.

“Given the lack of even basic visibility as to what is running on your mobile platform, most IT security teams certainly do not have the capability to identify potential threats from these devices,” he said.

This spread is no doubt helped by the increased use of employee-owned mobile devices in accessing company systems, which in turn increases the threat the company’s network.

“Smart phones and mobile devices now carry a lot of data, which can be stolen should the device be misplaced or lost putting the company’s data at risk,” Wood said.

The issue with employee-owned mobile devices, more commonly known as the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement, is that they that access corporate resources outside of the control of the corporate IT function.

This means it can be difficult to identify even basic environmental data for these devices, such as the number and type of devices being used, and the operating systems and applications.

However, despite these pitfalls, Wood does not advocate banning BYOD strategies outright.

“For most enterprises, the right solution is to implement BYOD policies that clearly define the proper use of employee-owned devices in the enterprise,” he said.

Beware the social

Social networking sites have become the target as distribution hubs for malicious code, and this will likely continue into 2013.

“Devices that have access to the enterprise need to be routinely updated with the latest security programs,” Wood said.

“Enterprises need to understand what is running on their network in order to protect their digital assets.”

Some popular ways hackers have attacked the services is by writing tantalising status updates on news feeds to get users to click on the links.

These links typically lead to malware that end up gaining access to protected systems and information.

Patrick Budmar covers consumer and enterprise technology breaking news for IDG Communications. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_budmar.

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