Financial services has been a favorite target for sophisticated attacks in the last few years, but cyber criminals are moving on to other "critical sectors of the economy," according to McAfee.
In the security giant's fourth quarter threats report, researchers highlighted some of the new schemes being used in this regard and other high-profile attacks, including advanced persistent threats (APTs) such as Operation High Roller and Project Blitzkrieg.
Both of these methods attack financial services infrastructures, with the former aimed at manufacturing and import/export firms in the United States and Latin America, while Blitzkrieg hits both consumers and their banks through illicit electronic fund transfers.
Vincent Weafer, senior vice president of McAfee Labs, explained in the report why many of these cyber criminals are becoming more interested in government, manufacturing and commercial transaction infrastructure targets.
We are seeing attacks shifting into a variety of new areas, from factories, to corporations, to government agencies, to the infrastructure that connects them together. This represents a new chapter in cybersecurity in that threat-development, driven by the lure of financial industry profits, has created a growing underground market for these cybercrime weapons, as well as creative new approaches to thwarting security measures common across industries.
But specific hacktivist activity increased only "modestly" last quarter, with attacks cited against both public and private sector targets in Israel, Syria, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Researchers also predicted that these attacks will actually decline throughout 2013 -- only to be replaced by attacks "sponsored and executed by state actors."
For reference, the fourth quarter report is based on data from McAfee’s Global Threat Intelligence network with 500 multidisciplinary researchers in 30 countries.