Ransomware, Bitcoin and privacy scams to dominate 2014: AVG Security

Forecasts include an increase in ransomware, Bitcoin scams, privacy and digital vagrants

AVG has released its security threats predictions for the new year, and the sophisticated attacks that defined 2013 look to continue.

AVG Technologies Australia security advisor, Michael McKinnon, said the emergence of ransomware such as Cryptlocker shows the increasing sophistication of modern malware, and should be a concern for individual users and business.

He said that while the attacks on enterprise and private users have been largely muted to date, with many cyber criminals holding back from inflicting full damage to their targets. This may not necessarily continue in the future if programs like Cryptlocker are anything to go by.

Internet vigilantism remains a growing force on the web. Public frustration at the lack of penalties for cyber crime should continue to grow as individuals take matters into their own hands. McKinnon cited the Boston bombings as an example of large scale activity by such actors.

Increases in the trading of peer-to-peer currency like Bitcoin are something to be mindful of in the coming year. The real challenge for such crypto-currency technologies is how they will pervade mainstream society. With many issues to overcome such as taxation and regulation, McKinnon notes that mixed feelings in the community over such currencies will continue for some time, but remains worth watching.

Edward Snowden and Wikileaks showed that privacy was a major issue in 2013, and this will continue. The issue in the future will be one of choice; Individuals need to be aware of the content they put up on the web and the privacy issues that may result.

“There are those that don’t wish to live in a surveillance state, while others have complete faith in the ability of their governments to protect them. And some that merely wish to be informed of the best products and bargains by revealing their location and purchasing habits willingly to third parties. Either way, let’s hope that freedom prevails in making our own choice,” McKinnon said.

He also pointed to the enormous number of new internet users expected in the near future, and their vulnerabilities to the pitfalls of the web to which many experienced users are well accustomed.

These new users face a far steeper learning curve than people in the past, and he expects to see an increase in the number of victims of cyber crime in the near future as these novices learn how to safely navigate the web.

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