IT threats: outlook for 2004
01/05/2004. New year, new resolutions
and, once again, new Internet threats. While predicting the future is a risky business, by
extrapolating the events of the past twelve months, we will try to offer an idea of the
kind of threats that are likely to dominate the coming year.
The most reasonable forecast is that 2004
will be the year of other malware, i.e. not just viruses and worms. This is
not to say that there will be less viruses or there wont be epidemics, but rather
traditional viruses will lose ground to an increasing number and wider variety of other
threats, such as dialers, spyware or spam.
Reasons for this increase are likely to
be purely financial, as many unscrupulous users have realized the potential benefits of
installing dialers -reconnecting modem users to premium rate phone numbers-, stealing bank
or credit card details, or selling data bases to dubious marketing companies.
Spam is also likely to play a major role,
and poses a double-edged threat. On the one hand, the enormous waste of time that reading
and deleting junk mail supposes and on the other, the possibility that at some time it
could be used as a means of propagation for viruses or other malicious code.
Hacker attacks are also likely to
increase, facilitated by the increased proliferation of backdoor Trojans and hacking tools
in recent months.
As for the new viruses expected to appear
in 2004, virus creators are likely to continue probing for vulnerabilities in widely used
software in order to spread their creations as widely as possible. This is a strategy that
has been increasing in popularity, often with devastating results. We are likely to see
more worms than any other type of virus, due to their capacity to spread rapidly and
Trojans, due to their ability to install other malware on computers.
Luis Corrons, head of PandaLabs, says:
2004 wont be dominated exclusively by viruses. Other malware, such as dialers,
spyware, hacking tools and spam, must be taken into account when designing security
policies. Viruses will no doubt continue to appear, possibly even more than before, but
the increased presence of other threats means that good antivirus defense on its own is
not enough; users will also need to have specific tools to counter this new wave of
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