The Internet is launching new technologies almost daily, it seems. This year, Web 2.0 really took off as a buzz word, along with Ajax (no, not the household cleaner), Ruby (no, not the precious gem) and others. VoIP kind of came into its own this year as the technology became easier to adopt and became cheaper (Skype was free for most of 2006).
Internet users became a little more savvy in 2006 as well. More people became aware of the need to use anti-virus software AND keep it updated. More people became aware of the need to keep their computers patched when a software vendor releases updates. Although they were more prevalent in 2006, Spam, spyware and adware are also being blocked like never before. That is great news overall. But we can’t let our guard down for 2007, especially with all the new technology available.
Here are a few favorite target areas for the bad guys. These areas are either current targets or will likely become bigger targets next year:
- Banking customers are huge targets. E-mail inboxes are often flooded with notifications of changes in account status or requests to update your banking information by clicking a link, etc. This is called phishing. The spammer/phisher will send out THOUSANDS of these types of e-mail every day and if they can get 2% of the recipients to follow the directions, they consider the campaign a success. If you are a 2 percenter, you will loose money and you will possibly loose your identity.
- Online gaming continued to increase in popularity in 2006. How many people out there play World of Warcraft? People are flocking to this MMO in droves. Just play the demo and you will be hooked ;). But password thieves are also flocking to online gaming communities at an increasing rate and the goal is not to steal your carefully crafted character. Rather, the goal is to get access to your credit card information and steal your real money and your real identity.
- If you are a user of VoIP, you also need to be on high alert. Skype is currently being targeted by a password stealing Trojan. The goal of this Trojan is to get access to your account and get your credit card information. Basically, if you keep your anti-virus definitions up-to-date, you are protected. Just make sure you don’t click on any odd links or attachments that you receive through Skype chat, or any chat for that matter.
So, overall 2006 showed improvement in Internet user safety. Some of once successful malware attacks are not as fruitful as in years past. But with all the new technology popping up, the spammers, phishers and hackers are sure to find ways to exploit it for their own gains. They have made that their career choice and they do it because it works.