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Malware Disguised as Social Networking Tops Emerging Security Threats

What's the top threat to data security going to be in 2009? According to the GTISC Emerging Cyber Threats Report for 2009 out of Georgia Tech's Information Security Center, the answer is malware specifically disguised as "benign social networking links."

The report, released at the GTISC Security Summit on Emerging Cyber Security Threats this week, identifies the key data security threats that are likely to expand and evolve in the coming year. It focuses on threats to both consumer and enterprise systems.

According to the second-annual report, the chief motivator for all of the top emerging threats will be data. Last year's inaugural report cited financial gain as the chief motivator, and "Web 2.0" was cited as the top emerging threat category. But Web 2.0 doesn't even make the top-five list for 2009.

Instead, this year's list includes the following:

  1. Malware disguised as social networking links;
  2. Botnets, which GTISC said are growing faster even than viruses and spam;
  3. "Cyber warfare" (attacks on economy and infrastructure);
  4. VoIP and mobile convergence issues, including "voice fraud and cellular botnets"; and
  5. "The Evolving Cyber Crime Economy," which includes malware programs and kits for sale.

"At GTISC, we strongly believe that a proactive approach to understanding emerging threats will help us develop more effective information security technologies and strategies," said Mustaque Ahamad, director of GTISC, in a statement released Thursday. "The annual GTISC Security Summit on Emerging Cyber Security Threats and this report seek to give us a better understanding of the increasingly sophisticated cyber security challenges we will face in the years ahead...."

The 2009 report can be downloaded in PDF format here. A Webcast covering he report, as well as additional information, can be found here.

About the Author

Dave Nagel is the executive editor for 1105 Media's educational technology online publications and electronic newsletters.

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