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Vulnerabilities / Threats

12/31/2008
12:26 PM
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Four Threats For '09 That You've Probably Never Heard Of (Or Thought About)

What could keep you up at night in the new year may not be what you expect -- a look at some of the lesser-known threats predicted for 2009

Radical extremist hackers

While many cybercrime organizations operate out of Eastern Europe today, that could soon change: iDefense predicts that 2009 will be the year that Middle Eastern cybercartels expand into online fraud. A recent wave of fatwas issued by radical Islamic religious leaders in that region authorizing these groups to use cyberattacks to defend Islam has opened the door for these groups to wage cyberattacks, according to iDefense.

"Religious hackers now have the authority to do these operations as long as they are protecting Islam," says Rick Howard, intelligence director for iDefense. "Some are specific to cyberfraud to fund the Islamic agenda."

IDefense expects U.S. financial institutions to be prime targets for these extremist hackers. "Now they have the authority of their religious leaders to go for it," Howard says.

Perimeter eSecurity's Prince says the addition of these hacker groups in the Middle East is a continuation of the political hacking we've seen in the recent Russia-Georgia conflict and other international clashes. Islamic extremist are suspected to be behind a series of hacks and defacements of Israeli Websites over the past few days. Attackers defaced more than 300 sites with anti-Israeli and anti-U.S. messages in the wake of Israel's bombing of Gaza.

"My take on defaced Websites is that they are not so much about attacks but more like cyber-tree huggers who want peace and have these hacking skills," Prince says. "When they see the reports on CNN, they want to participate in some way to do what they can to have their position heard and to fight in their small way."

But all-out cyberwarfare is indeed a threat, he adds. "What we've seen to date, though, are political uprisings against anything people don't like," Prince says.

Next: Attacks on online ad revenue Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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