The world economic crisis has set the stage for hackers, spammers and phishers to have a field day. They can just about steal city hall, if people don’t pay attention. According to security experts, this crisis alone will increase attacks in 2009. Expect to see an increase in emails lulling people with false promises for “easy to get mortgages” or fast income with “work at home opportunities”. With emotions running high to find sources of income, easy targets are people who have lost their job or who can’t pay a mortgage with foreclosure hiding around the corner. Desperation provides spammers with the perfect target each time.
Aurelija with PC1 News provides some keen predictions for 2009 to be on guard about. Social networking sites will continue to be phished but in a much more professional way with a goal of collecting as much personal information and information surrounding a person’s inner circle of friends and associates as possible. Certain types of spam will target proper names and be segmented according to demographics or certain types of markets. Be on the look out for shorter spam messages that will trip up spam filters with shorter messages. Other spam may resemble legitimate newsletters and other special offers. Once a person falls prey, the spam may spread with a viral marketing effect through their personal network.
Consider providers having to respond more often to CAPTCHA breaking techniques in 2009 by enhancing the CAPTCHA process, while deploying alternative CAPTCHA approaches. Any web site requiring a personal account to be created online will continue to be targeted and the CAPTCHA failure rate will continue to increase accordingly.
The advance fee fraud (419 scam) should be considered a continuing spam threat and worth giving vigilant attention. It is expected that these types of messages will become harder to recognize at first glance. Messages will contain only a couple of sentences, rather than a long story. Cyber criminals will try to trick potential victims and involve them in their schemes slowly, inviting them to find out more about the offered “business opportunity”. Besides, scammers will also make greater use of email attachments to convey their messages with more detail. This facilitates the scammers to bypass traditional anti-spam filters.
Spam is appearing more often as an intra-country globalized threat. China, Brazil, India and Russia are among the biggest emerging broadband markets worldwide and as such offer a tremendous opportunity for cybercrime. Email experts predict that in 2009 the emerging markets will be more heavily targeted with spam delivered in the local language.
Malicious emails will include an increasing proportion of attachments or web links to non executable (*.EXE) files. These will be legitimate looking data files, such as Microsoft Word documents and Adobe *.PDFs. These innocuous looking file types may actually contain sleeper code that exploits software or web browser vulnerabilities. Viewing these files, which would be harmless on a patched computer, could lead to an invisible disaster on an unpatched one.