NEWS FROM THE LAB - Friday, December 14, 2012

Seven Predictions for 2013 Posted by Sean @ 12:44 GMT

2013 Forecast

1. The end of the Internet as we know it?

The World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) was held by the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) to finalize changes to the International Telecommunications Regulations treaty (ITR).

In attendance were representatives of governments, and companies, from around the world, not all of whom are interested in Internet freedom. In the end, the United States announced that it could not sign the ITR treaty as generated by WCIT. Several other nations followed.

— Read more —

Foreign Policy: Official: U.S. won't sign Internet treaty
Ars Technica: Why the ITU is the wrong place to set Internet standards
.Nxt: Internet humbles UN telecoms agency
GulfNews.com: Web under closer state watch

GulfNews.com appears to have a different take on the issue than does the Western media.

2. Leaks will reveal more government-sponsored espionage tools

Stuxnet, Flame, Gauss, et cetera — are they the tip of the iceberg?

A cyber arms race is well underway and while we may not always be aware of nation-states' covert cyber operations, we can expect that governments are more and more involved in such activity. In 2013, we'll most likely see more leaks that definitively demonstrate this, and from countries who haven't previously been seen as a source of attacks. As the arms race heats up, the odds of leaks increase.

3. Commoditization of mobile malware will increase

The Android operating system has solidified in a way that previous mobile operating systems haven't, extending from phones to tablets to TVs to specialized versions of tablets. The more ubiquitous it becomes, the easier to build malware on top of it and the more opportunities for criminals to innovate businesswise. Mobile malware will become more commoditized, with cybercriminals building toolkits that can be purchased and used by other criminals without real hacking skills. In other words, malware as a service, for Android.

4. Another malware outbreak will hit Macs

2011 saw scareware called Mac Defender, and in 2012 Flashback took advantage of flaws in Java. The Labs predict 2013 will bring another Mac malware outbreak that will have some success within the Mac community.

The author of the Flashback Trojan is still at large and is rumored to be working on something else. And while there have been smart security changes to the Mac OS, there's a segment of the Mac-using population who are basically oblivious to the threats facing Macs, making them vulnerable to a new malware outbreak.

5. Smart TVs will become a hacker target

Smart TVs are plugged into the Internet, they've got processing power, and since they typically aren't equipped with security, they're wide open to attacks. Adding to their vulnerability is that unlike home computers, many smart TVs are directly connected to the Internet without the buffer of a router, which deflects unsolicited traffic. Also, consumers often don't change the factory default username and password that have been set for web administration, giving easy access to hackers.

It's very easy for hackers to scan for smart TVs on the Internet. When found, they only need to use the default username and password, and they're in. 2012 already witnessed LightAidra, which infected set top boxes. 2013 could see smart TVs being used for such purposes as click fraud, Bitcoin mining, and DDoS attacks.

— Read more —

CERT-FI: Onko digi-tv-laitteesi bottiverkon orjakone?
CERT-FI: Digitv-virittimist�kin tavattu haittaohjelmia
Computerworld: Samsung TV vulnerability could let a hacker change the channel

6. Mobile spy software will go mainstream

2013 may see a rise in popularity of tracking software, and not just for parental control purposes. There has already been growth in child safety apps that monitor kids' activities, for example, their Facebook behavior. Of course this kind of software can also be used to spy on anyone, not just kids. The more smartphones there are, the more people will be seeking out software like this � to find out what their spouses are up to, for example.

7. Free tablets will be offered to prime content customers

Tablets and e-readers are all the rage, and more and more often in closed ecosystems such as the iPad with iTunes or the Kindle with Amazon. As the Kindle price keeps dropping, the Labs predict that 2013 may bring a free e-reader or tablet for prime customers of companies who charge for content, like Amazon or Barnes & Noble. Closed ecosystems are more secure, but then you have to trust the provider to protect your privacy.

So what's good for security may not be great for your privacy.

Also, Amazon recently announced flat-fee plans for unlimited children's content and games. As more dedicated, and closed, devices are available, more and more parents will opt to restrict their children's usage of Windows-based computers, and that will affect their parental control software needs.