Watch out for cyber-terrorism and virus mutations

Cyber-terrorist activity and new delivery mechanisms for the transmission of virus mutations will be among the next wave of information security trends, says Predictive Systems.

Wireless applications are going to create yet another mechanism for cyber criminals to use to commit crimes, says Predictive.

NEW YORK - Cyber-terrorist activity and new delivery mechanisms for the transmission of virus mutations will be among the next wave of significant information security trends to affect businesses, organizations, and even individual users, according to Predictive Systems, a network infrastructure consulting firm.

"Advances in technology, insider knowledge, inadequate security precautions - all are contributing to a new generation of criminal cyber behavior that could have a potentially devastating impact on companies and even individuals that fail to take steps to protect themselves," said Dr. Terry Gudaitis, a cyber crime profiler for Predictive Systems.

Based upon data reported in the firm's third quarter Global E-Review, a quarterly review of threats, vulnerabilities, and identified trends, the types of cyber behavior and security problems organizations may see in 2001 will include:

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  • Wireless applications will create a new mechanism for cyber criminals.
    Wireless applications are going to create yet one more mechanism for cyber criminals to use to commit crimes. In fact, virus writers have already created the PalmOS/Phage virus, which recently hit the Palm OS PDA operating system.

  • Cyber Terrorist activity and hactivist activity will become more public and visible.
    Currently, cyber-terrorists and hactivists do not appear to be well-organized, and in some cases, do not have access to the necessary infrastructure to conduct a successful attack.

    However, with the increasing influence of more technically sophisticated members, better organization, more charismatic leadership, and the ability to launch an attack from a well-infrastructured location, a significantly destructive cyber-terrorist or hactivist event is nearly inevitable. The target will most likely be a major US corporation or financial institution.

  • Virus mutations and transmission/delivery mechanisms will increase.
    Wireless technologies that are now being developed will also be vulnerable to similar viruses to Phage, which was launched against the Palm operating system. Viruses will most likely also be launched via MP3 files and MP10 files.

  • Insider issues and attacks are going to stem from more senior-level and executive employees.
    Ex-hackers are finding their way into companies, organizations, and even the federal government. Although these individuals have claimed to have "changed their ways", it is unlikely that they actually have. Some hackers do not even believe that their hacking or cracking is unethical or unacceptable.

    "Cyber-criminals will continue to take advantage of all the new technologies and methods available to them - the trick is to understand how, why, where, and when they will choose to launch an attack," said Dr. Gudaitis.

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