The Top Four Cyber Threats for 2011


Rather than bombarding users with countless emails, they bombard users through social networking sites -- with multiple links and requests from programs like Facebook and Twitter -- attempting to trick users including clicking on links to malicious code.

"This shift will completely alter the threat landscape in 2011," McAfee said in the threat predictions paper.

One vulnerability McAfee said spammers will increasingly exploit is the use of small URLs -- a feature common to Twitter users who are confined by space. By using small URLs, spammers can mask the true URL from traditional security filters.

Regardless of how they target users -- whether governments or private citizens -- Greenbaum said more and more criminals are flowing into the online world with increasingly creative schemes.

"The more activities that are being carried out online by law-abiding citizens, the more opportunity criminals see..." he said. "Attack activity rises, to some extent as attacker technology improves, but to another extent -- and underlying all of that -- as general online activity rises."

The Department of Homeland Security agreed.

"The increased use of new technologies such as hand held devices and social networking sites has made the world more connected than ever before, but with greater connectivity comes greater risk of cyber threats and cyber crime," a DHS official told ABC News. "In 2011, DHS anticipates that malicious cyber activity will continue to become more common, more sophisticated and more targeted -- and range from unsophisticated hackers to very technically competent intruders using state-of-the-art techniques."

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