Smarter, Shadier and Stealthier Cybercrime Forces Industry to Dramatic Change

December 10, 2013 Sophos Press Release

Security report highlights shifting crime tactics and what to expect in 2014


OXFORD, UK – December 10, 2013 – Sophos today released its latest Security Threat Report. The report outlines the significant changes in cybercriminal behavior over the course of last year and a forecast for their preferred methods of attack in 2014. This year cybercriminals continued the theme of professionalization of their "industry," offering easy-to-buy-and-use services that amplified the scale of cybercrime to never before seen levels.

“While many security experts are aware of the high level trends, few have recognized their significance,” said James Lyne, global head of security research at Sophos. “If 2013 has taught us anything, it is that traditional security controls are struggling. These new behaviors are forcing the industry to adapt and change, and widely held best practices must be reconsidered.”

The threat report highlights new security concerns ranging from stealthy malware tools that offer dynamic camouflage and provide attackers with long-term persistent access to users’ data, to the proliferation of connected devices that represent new and often ill-protected targets. Many new “Internet of Things” devices are becoming commonplace in our homes and everyday infrastructure, offering shadier cybercriminals the potential to impact our daily lives, rather than just the traditional theft of financial information.

“These trends are set to continue in 2014 as threats become even smarter, shadier and stealthier,” said Lyne.

In 2014 Sophos predicts greater focus from cybercriminals on high quality and convincing phishing and social engineering to compensate for harder-to-exploit operating systems like Windows 8.1; embedded devices (such as POS systems, medical systems and new "smart" infrastructure) will open old wounds as security mistakes eliminated in the modern PC environment are carelessly re-implemented; attacks on corporate and personal data in the cloud will continue to grow as providers struggle to refine the security strategy in this new computing platform; and malware for mobile is set to become as sophisticated as its PC relatives.

“It is clear in 2014 we need to be watching not just the evolution of existing attacks, but be prepared for dangerous new threats emerging that we haven’t previously dealt with,” said Gerhard Eschelbeck, CTO at Sophos. “As the industry adapts and enhances protection mechanisms to cover new devices and threats, this is increasingly becoming an issue for every member of society, not just for government and business.”

A full copy of the Security Threat Report 2014 containing more information and statistics on cybercrime in 2013, as well as top tips and predictions on emerging trends, can be downloaded here. A blog discussing the Threat Report is also available.