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Apple, Social Networks Top Cybercrime Targets In 2011

McAfee threat predictions for the coming year forecast that Apple's increasing influence in personal computing, smartphones, and tablets will make it a prime target for cybercriminals.
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Geolocation services, such as Foursquare, Gowalla, and Facebook Places, are providing cybercriminals with a treasure trove of personal information from users that hackers will use in crafting targeted attacks on the most popular social networking sites. The information cybercriminals will be gathering in real-time include who is sending messages and what are they saying, where the senders are located, what are their interests and what operating systems, applications and social media they are using.

All this information will lead to more sophisticated disguises for malicious content sent to people's inboxes. McAfee says more malware will resemble legitimate files and appear to come from a person's friends.

People with Internet-enabled TVs will see an increasing number of malicious apps for the most widely deployed media platforms, such as Google TV. These apps will target or expose private and identity data, and will add TVs to botnets traditionally comprised of compromised PCs. Botnet networks are created to send spam and launch denial-of-service attacks on Web sites.

The latter form of attack will be used more often next year by groups pushing a particular political agenda, McAfee says. The tactic received a lot of attention this month when supporters of WikiLeaks launched DoS attacks against companies that stopped doing business with the rogue Web site, after it published secret U.S. diplomatic documents. The attacks were to payback groups that launched their own DoS missions against WikiLeaks.

Finally, cyberespionage will increase this year. Such attacks will occur under the sponsorship or direction of a nation-state looking to tap into the computer systems of companies involved in global economic activities or other countries' national security projects. Such spying missions will target email archives, document stores, intellectual property repositories and other databases, McAfee says.

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