Loosely knit hacker group Anonmymous loves a challenge so we’ll see how it responds to this. On Thursday, McAfee released its annual Threat Predictions report, including a little tidbit that is bound to catch Anonymous’ attention.
Among its predictions for 2013, McAfee said that it felt that Anonymous will decline in importance in 2013. Although the group has shown it has the capability to launch large-scale attacks against technologically sophisticated targets, its loose-knit nature is both a boon and a bane.
The fact is that Anonymous doesn’t act as one unit, and that is a weakness. In a section in the report dedicated to hacktivism, McAfee said:
Sympathizers of Anonymous are suffering. Too many uncoordinated and unclear operations have been detrimental to its reputation. Added to this, the disinformation, false claims, and pure hacking actions will lead to the movement’s being less politically visible than in the past.
Because Anonymous’ level of technical sophistication has stagnated and its tactics are better understood by its potential victims, the group’s level of success will decline. However, we could easily imagine some short-lived spectacular actions due to convergence between hacktivists and antiglobalization supporters, or hacktivists and ecoterrorists.
Anonymous is just one aspect of hacktivism. Another more powerful force is people with strong political motivation and high availability over a long term.
We’ll see how Anonymous responds.
Meanwhile, though, the explosion of smart mobile devices (iPhones, iPads, Android smartphones and tablets, Windows Phone devices, and more) have given malware writers fresh new targets. It’s unclear if anti-malware software available on mobile platforms are up to snuff, as yet, too.
Practice makes perfect, and McAfee feels that malware writers will be able to apply their years of experience on PCs to their new mobile targets. McAfee believes that there will be an increase in ransomware attacks, which lock you out of your smartphone or tablet unless you agree to pay the ransom. Of course, there is no guarantee that once the ransom is paid you will be allowed back into your device.
That’s why we recommend a cloud-based security solution for mobile devices. If you can wipe your device, it should remove any ransomware. Should is a key word, however.
McAfee also predicts a rise in attacks by malware such as Stuxnet, which target infrastructure instead of aiming to make money. That’s an interesting prediction, since Stuxnet and variants are developed by nations. As the report says,
Experts are no longer reluctant to predict national responsibility in military and industrial espionage or precision attacks that cause physical damage, as in the case of Stuxnet or Shamoon. State-related threats will increase and make the headlines.
Suspicions about government-sponsored attacks will grow. Using zero-day vulnerabilities and sophistical malware, some of these attacks may be considered advanced persistent threats, while others will involve conventional malware.
That final prediction may mean the recently revealed “Perfect Citizen” program may earn its keep, either defensively or offensively.