Thursday, 15 January 2009

Top tech threats of 2009

It’s been a maelstrom of a year. Besides some of the fiercest financial and personal storms during 2008, we have also seen hackers making their way into our systems through browser and OS glitches -- and sometimes just by the foolhardy way we click on links and attachments.

While most of the holes have been plugged, there are still a few bad eggs out there that are looking forward to making 2009 harder for us. The tech-threat landscape looks bleak, but nothing that can’t be changed if we take a few well-timed precautions...

Portable threats
Portable storage devices, such as flash drives and standalone hard disks, will be one of the biggest risk factors of 2009. These devices are easily shared amongst a group of users; so, if one such device is infected, it could end up compromising entire networks and groups. End Point Security is going to be a major concern area for both networks and home users.

And then, of course, there are PDA phones. These devices provide a new gateway to hackers through malicious codes in spam emails and websites around the Internet.

Social networking
Sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Orkut are sitting ducks for cyber criminals. Their goal: To collect information from user profiles that can later be used in other targeted attacks.

Using the information, scammers could send messages that resemble legitimate correspondence from trusted sources, such as friends and relatives.

Pod slurping
The term describes the act of using a portable data storage device such as an iPod to illicitly download confidential data by directly plugging it into a computer where the data is held.

As MP3 players become smaller -- coupled with an increase in their storage capacity -- they become an increasing security risk to companies, wherein employees could use them to copy classified information.

Most companies in 2009 would find it prudent to have rules in place with regards to cellphones, MP3 players and personal flash drives.