Cybercrime is at an all-time this year, according to security software firm McAfee, and anyone using the internet for financial transactions has been advised to stay cautious. With cybercriminals and hacktivists refining their methods and developing more adaptive strategies to attack users of the cyberspace, security firms are being forced to develop newer and better defence strategies against rising threats.
Michelle Dennedy, Chief Privacy Officer for McAfee, explained how cyber attacks are being administered these days, from the traditional hacking methods and malware that commonly attempt to hit PCs and smartphones to more sophisticated methods. Such methods include taking advantage of the latest NFC (Near-Field Communications) technology – a technology which enables consumers to use tap-and-pay mobile wallet services. According to Dennedy, all hackers have to do is walk through crowds, physically bump into consumers with NFC-privy smartphones and steal information automatically and effortlessly.
The report also showed an increase of a new type of cyber attack called ‘ransomware’. This is a method by which hackers will block a targeted user’s access to their own personal data and communication services and then extort them for payments if they wish to regain access. According to McAfee’s 2013 Threat Prediction report, cyber criminals are capable of doing this using evolved tools and techniques to gain control over their victim’s bank details, private data and other personal information and coerce them into giving in to their demands.
While McAfee is working towards reinforcing its security capabilities, Dennedy has mentioned that users still need to stay vigilant and cautious until better security measures are made available. Consumers who use their smartphones and computers to handle their finances have been advised to limit their cyber transactions and greatly reduce their use of online banking options. Dennedy also recommends that consumers who run online accounts should make it a point to periodically change their account password so as to make their accounts harder to hack into.
However, threats might be more than just personal attacks aimed at regular consumers. McAfee has also predicted that online hacktivist groups like Anonymous will progressively get less active while more politically driven groups will start surfacing and initiating even more widespread damage. Nation states and general enemies of the state will have picked up cyber warfare as the newest means of assault, threatening key infrastructure and food supplies, as well as causing economy shutdowns and even widespread disruption.