Will the Feds take down a big hacker group in 2008?

Summary:This is the season for predictions and Websense is out with its top 10 predictions and a couple of them are quite interesting. One of the more interesting ones is the prediction (more like hope) that the government nabs a big hacking group in 2008.

This is the season for predictions and Websense is out with its top 10 predictions and a couple of them are quite interesting. One of the more interesting ones is the prediction (more like hope) that the government nabs a big hacking group in 2008.

Here's the Websense prediction (we'll get to the other items in a bit):

9. Global law enforcement will crack down on key hacker groups and individuals. In 2007, large-scale Internet-based attacks garnered the attention of law enforcement officials around the world. Websense anticipates that through the global cooperation of enforcement agencies, in 2008 the biggest crackdown and arrests of key members of a hacker group will occur.

I got a briefing with Dan Hubbard, Websense's vice president of security research, late Tuesday and had to snicker at the mere thought that the government would even begin to keep up with fast-moving hackers.

Hubbard acknowledged that this prediction was bordering on a hope. But his rationale is solid and may just give the Feds a fighting chance. "Many hacker groups are operating out in the open and getting more involved with other activities beyond malicious code," said Hubbard.

My next question: Will the code or the side ventures bring down these groups? Hubbard said clearly the side ventures will be the problem. "If they are caught it'll be these other activities. It's like the mafia guy that gets caught for tax evasion," he said.

As for the other predictions in order, Websense notes that the Olympics will bring new cyber attacks; malicious spam will invade blogs and search engines; Web 2.0 weak links will be exploited; the number of compromised sites will surpass the number of created malicious sites (why build when you can just exploit); cross platform attacks (think iPhone) increase; hackers will attack special interest groups (think Baby Boomers); JavaScript will morph to evade anti-virus software; attacks will get encrypted; and voice spam will increase.

Some of those predictions are no brainers, but the morphing JavaScript could be an interesting trend to note. Hubbard referred to "polymorphic JavaScript." In a nutshell, this is malicious code that is encoded in a way that make it difficult for any virus signature to keep up. It changes hourly and even by the minute.

Also see Richard Stiennon's predictions.

Topics: Government : US, Government, Security

About

Larry Dignan is Editor in Chief of ZDNet and SmartPlanet as well as Editorial Director of ZDNet's sister site TechRepublic. He was most recently Executive Editor of News and Blogs at ZDNet. Prior to that he was executive news editor at eWeek and news editor at Baseline. He also served as the East Coast news editor and finance editor at CN... Full Bio

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