At the beginning of 2011, the Multi-State Information Sharing and Analysis Center issued its annual report on cybersecurity emerging trends and threats facing state and local government. Based on the overall picture, public officials should remain on high alert.
1. Botnets and Malware: The number of new types of malicious software programs and websites reported in 2010 were in the tens of millions. Their automation and sophistication continues to increase, so expect their proliferation to continue.
2. Mobile Devices: The use of these -- and the number of applications that run on them -- continue to grow. Experts believe attacks by cybercriminals will increase significantly as they go after the operating systems that run the phones and tablet PCs.
3. Hacktivism: Cyberprotests launched by socially or politically motivated activists are on the rise. Groups such as Anonymous, Lulz Security and Operation Payback have launched spam campaigns and denial-of-service attacks against both public- and private-sector organizations.
4. Social Media: The volume of users of such sites as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook continues to grow exponentially. Because they are considered trustworthy sites, they are an attractive target for cybercriminals who run scams.
5. Application Vulnerabilities: Despite the growing awareness of cyberthreats, too many applications are deployed without adequate security controls, and criminals will continue to target these applications to gain access to data.
6. Cloud Computing: State and local government will expand its use of the cloud to save money and increase flexibility. Expect hackers and criminals to go where the data resides in growing volume. The report says hackers will identify new ways to infiltrate cloud platforms and access data illegally.