In its annual security report, Cisco found long time hacker victim, Windows, is no longer the only target for cybercriminals.
The major trends in cybercrime in 2010, according to the report, were hackers moving beyond Windows and focusing on smart phones, tablet computers, and mobile platforms. PC platform and application vendors have been more aggressive in patching vulnerabilities and thus scammers have had to look elsewhere to make money.
Everyone knows the joke about the two hikers and the hungry bear in which the swifter hiker explains his footrace is not against the bear but the other hiker. The cybercriminal bears have been feasting on the 'slowest hiker' Windows platform for the last decade. But with increased security in the Windows operating system and applications, the bears are looking elsewhere to satisfy their hunger. Mobile and emerging operating systems are hikers that the bears have largely ignored until now, but they are beginning to look much more appealing. These bears are also finding opportunities in the explosion in mobile-device usage, where we're seeing a growing number of exploits aimed specifically at mobile users, Patrick Peterson, fellow at Cisco, said in a video explaining the report.
The other major trend of the cybercrime world in 2010 was money muling. Money muling is where people are recruited to set up bank accounts, or even use their own, to help scammers cash out or launder money. The mule acts as the go-between the scammer and the stolen goods or money. Cisco expects money muling to become a major focus of cybercrime prevention investment in 2011.
Along with money muling, cash theft scams through cybercrime have come as a result of attack toolkits. Security firm Symantec says attack toolkits are software programs launched by cybercriminals to facilitate launch of widespread attacks on networked computers. Cisco says one of the most popular, Zeus, will continue to be dangerous in 2011.
Zeus has been adapted for the mobile platform in the form of SymbOS/Zitmo.Altr (Zitmo stands for Zeus in the Mobile). Also recent reports say Zeus has targeted online payment firms such as Money Bookers, Web Money and Nochex.
On a happier note, Cisco says spam levels have declined for the first time in the history of the internet. In countries like Brazil, China and Turkey showed significantly lower volumes of in 2010 than in 2009. However, the same could not be said for France, Germany and the United Kingdom.