The sheer popularity of Apple mobile devices comes at a price: more security threats.
A report from security software provider McAfee highlights the greatest security threats in technology for the upcoming year. It lists several popular services and platforms including Google's Android, Apple's iPhone, foursquare, Google TV and the Mac OS X platform.
We've seen significant advancements in device and social network adoption, placing a bulls-eye on the platforms and services users are embracing the most, said Vincent Weafer, senior vice president of McAfee Labs, in a statement. These platforms and services have become very popular in a short amount of time, and we're already seeing a significant increase in vulnerabilities, attacks and data loss.
McAfee notes Apple has remained relatively untouched by cyber hackers. Both the iOS and OS X have been relatively free fo viruses and malware for several years. But that wasn't because they were any better at security. If a malicious hacker wanted to do a lot of damage, or breach the security of a business, he or she was better off attacking a Windows machine because there were and are many more of them.
However, Apple's growing market share means it can no longer fly under the radar. Data and identity risk exposure will only increase for iPad and iPhone users. MacAfee expects Apple botnets and Trojans to become a common occurrence.
All together, McAfee expects a rapid escalation of attacks and threats to mobile devices, putting user and corporate data at very high risk. It also expects increased attacks on connected TV applications and location based services, two other increasingly popular technologies.
Another target for cybercriminals will be social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. McAfee actually expects URL shortening websites, such as Bit.ly, to be the top cybercriminal social media target. The company says cyber criminals will use them for spam, confidence scams or phishing. Twitter can be an especially important source of attacks from shortened URLs, because the 140-character limit means many legitimate users substitute them for longer ones. That means people can get fooled into clicking on a malicious link.
McAfee also expects the tale of Julian Assange to be repeated by copycats in 2011. Hacktivism, as it's being called, will become a more organized, strategic and popular way to demonstrate political beliefs. In the Assange case, some hackers decided to retaliate against PayPal and MasterCard for suspending services to Wikileaks, which had released thousands of classified government documents.