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Fortinet Top 9 in ’09: Security/Threat Trend Predictions

December 2008 by Fortinet

The economy will be driving many things in 2009, and IT security will be no exception. Securing corporate networks will continue as a high priority, but companies will be looking for ways to economize and will base technology purchasing decisions on a need-to-have vs. nice-to-have basis. But this doesn’t mean they will want to sacrifice performance or feature richness, especially in security.

In addition, the digital ne’er-do-wells will be undeterred by the failing economy and may prove to be more active and organized than ever, which means the definition for security needs-to-have will change as perimeter security will no longer be enough. With growing numbers of applications to exploit, a plethora of online avenues and revenues to pilfer, and many more corporate networks to hack, cybercriminals will have no shortage of targets to pursue. The heightened interest and response from law enforcement worldwide in bringing cybercriminals to justice will force them to be even more aggressive and creative in their efforts to sidestep the law.

An active criminal element means companies can’t afford to let their guard down, so IT departments will have to be even more proactive and expeditious in their defense. Fortinet has provided these “Top 9 in ’09” security trend predictions to help companies safeguard their networks by mounting a multi-layered, multi-vectored and comprehensive defense strategy.

1. More bang for the buck — security consolidation and then some: Integrated security appliances will happen in greater numbers than ever before as IT departments are pressured in a down economy to trim cost yet maintain network integrity – essentially, doing more with less. In addition to integrating two or more security functionalities into a single device for capital and operational savings, companies can look for “superset” security solutions that may encompass other network functionalities such as WAN optimization and SSL inspection. In a nutshell, efficiency will be the new technology must-have for 2009.

2. Information security lockdown: With recent high-profile information theft (AKA database attacks) on TJMax and others, more companies are realizing that it’s not enough to padlock the front door to their networks but they also have to put a watchdog on their databases – to detect and prevent both internal and external breaches. In addition, recent PCI-DSS regulations have been updated to require application firewall as a toughened measure for protecting consumers’ credit information. As a result, greater emphasis will be placed on database security and regulation compliance, forcing companies to incorporate information security measures as part of their overall network security strategy.

3. Web 2.0 vulnerabilities multiply: The popularity of social networking sites and in-the-cloud computing (such as SaaS) means the definition of the “network” is now greatly expanded and cyber criminals have many more chinks in the network armor to target as employees traverse in and out of the network proper. As a result, companies will find a greater need to employ web application firewalls and data leakage prevention mechanisms to avoid having employees bring back tainted data into the corporate network and from the inadvertent release of proprietary information.

4. Bigger pipes, faster speed – letting in the good, bad & ugly: 10 GbE throughput is not a pipe dream but a welcomed reality, with adoption expected to surge in 2009. But opening up the network spigot means there’s also a lot more bad stuff getting in with the good. Enabling 10GbE security protocols that work at the speed of the network is crucial and should be the next area of focus for maintaining the integrity of high-speed networks.

5. 3G — the next biggest threat to mobile security: Malicious activity on smart mobile devices like smart phones has been low to date, but the anticipated consumer adoption of 3G and the new and business models it enables opens up a new and enormous market for cybercriminal activity. For example, we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg with Google’s recent Android OS vulnerability. 3G enables network operators to offer a wider range of more advanced mobile services, such as real-time access to high-quality audio/video transmission, and greater network capacity. This all adds up to greater opportunity for virus infections and attacks and requires a focused approach to securing the millions of handheld mobile devices in operation today.

6. More cash to flow in the digital underground: Over the last couple of years, organized cybercriminal operations have been building their base and will now look to extend trade with others. More services will be offered, such as botnets or harvested account networks (e.g., social networking). Affiliate programs will increase as organizations will seek to fuel their existing framework; if it works, they will offer more programs/incentives to “script kiddies.” A new generation of users are plugging into cyber space. This generation will be more exposed to underground channels, and framework such as phishing/exploit kits. This will in turn tempt more of this generation into joining the dark side

7. Let the games begin: Online gaming has gained much momentum, particularly in Asia, over the past year. This will continue to grow with the next generation of users. As a result, more interactivity will occur in these virtual worlds. We have seen a sharp increase in Trojans targeting account information, and this will be something to look out for in 2009 as this market grows.

8. Premeditated, targeted attacks on the rise: Throughout 2008, we saw a steady drop in monthly distributed malware — with the exception of the scareware attack, which drove much of the malware volume in the latter half of the year. As we enter an age of information warfare, targeted attacks using custom malware become much more of a presence. We will see more on this front in 2009: premeditated attacks after specific goals, with most of these attacks targeted toward enterprise and governments.

9. Law enforcement unite online: Law enforcement mounted an aggressive effort in 2008 in bringing malware authors and criminal organizations to justice. We will no doubt see more of this welcomed activity in 2009. However, it will take more than just one year in 2009 to fully get up to the required pace and infrastructure to adequately deal with cyber crime. This will be a slow process, which will require an unprecedented effort between various bodies from law enforcement to effectively address issues in cyber security.

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