Spear phishing leads cyber attack wave: IBM

Jailbroken phones in the enterprise also a concern, report finds

Targeted attacks against enterprise networks are on the increase as cyber criminals change tactics, according to security experts.

In its 2010 Trend and Risk Report, IBM security division, X-Force, noted that while phishing attacks had declined to a quarter of previous numbers, targeted attacks - or "spear phishing" - had grown.

According to X-Force threat intelligence manager, Tom Cross, the decline in overall phishing attacks could indicate a shift toward more profitable attack methods such as botnets and card skimming.

“The numerous, high profile targeted attacks in 2010 shed light on a crop of highly sophisticated cyber criminals, who may be well-funded and operating with knowledge of security vulnerabilitys that no one else has," Cross said in a statement. "Staying ahead of these growing threats as well as designing software and services that are secure has never been more critical."

The report also revealed that 8000 new web vulnerabilities had been discovered during 2010, a 27 per cent increase from 2009.

Adoption of consumer smartphones within the enterprise also posed an increasing risk for IT security departments, with urgent requirements for greater password management and data encryption within companies.

"The desire to 'jailbreak' mobile devices such as the iPhone has motivated the distribution of mature exploit code that has been reused in malicious attacks," he said. "While malware was not yet common on the latest generation of mobile device, most IT professionals view the data stored on them and how that can be misused or lost as the main security threats for these devices."

In addition, IBM Australia security architect, Dr Paul Ashley, said there were a number of issues to consider around mobile devices.

"More staff are using mobile devices [smart phone and tablets] for dealing with corporate data. It is quite common now to go to a meeting and see people using mobile devices exclusively. Also, the maturity around how corporations manage mobile devices is still very low. And we are also seeing evidence of sophisticated attacks on mobile devices such as DroidDream. Hence there is a significant risk to organisations when using mobile devices," said Dr Ashley.

Cloud computing security was singled out in the report due to concerns about Cloud security as adoption continued to grow.

"Since security is still considered an inhibitor to Cloud adoption, Cloud providers must earn their customers' trust," Cross said.

Cross advised deploying a secure infrastructure with security designed for Cloud applications.

"Over time, IBM predicts the market will drive the Cloud to provide access to security capabilities and expertise that is more cost effective than in-house implementations," he said. "This may turn questions about Cloud security on their head by making an interest in better security a driver for Cloud adoption, rather than an inhibitor."

Spam botnets such as Stuxnet and Zeus which create malware were also a continued threat. This was backed up by a report released in February by Symantec division, MessageLabs, which found that one in every 365 emails in Australia was spam.

Follow Hamish Barwick on Twitter: @HamishBarwick

Follow CIO Australia on Twitter: @CIO_Australia

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