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Security 2014: Top emerging threats

With the almost constant reporting of security breaches in major retail stores across America, the threat to data and privacy across all spectrums of daily life has never been more prominent.


As the first month of 2014 comes to an end, we have quickly been reminded of the precarious position many are put in by lackluster and substandard security in major retail businesses. While this threat is likely never to fully subside, there are a number of other specific threats to take into consideration as well.

Here are the most significant emerging threats to watch in the rest of 2014.

Windows XP

As Microsoft finally stops support of its aging Windows XP operating system, many existing users will be targeted by direct threats.

Windows XP is still widely used by consumers as well as businesses, even though the advancing age of the operating system and looming discontinuation of support by Microsoft make the system an easy target for attacks. To make this situation even more precarious, it is believed by many security experts that attackers might even be holding back possible attacks until after the Microsoft announced April cutoff of update and security support. That way, when the attacks are launched, there will be no security Tuesday patches from Microsoft.

The Internet of Things

With the recent purchase of NEST, a leading manufacturer of internet enabled home services, by Google, the Internet of Things is fast becoming a reality. Consider this correlation as well: if you are able to connect to your home security system or thermostat from a mobile device, then so can an attacker. As more and more of our home infrastructure is connected to the internet, the available access points into personal networks becomes larger. Keep this in mind as you connect once-mundane items on to the web.

Malware on your mobile device

So far, the world of mobile devices has escaped the onslaught of security breaches so common among PC users. This lack of high-profile security threats has created a false sense of security among mobile users who may take PC security very seriously while forgoing any sort of mobile security.

Keep this in mind: while there has not been a large-scale attack on a mobile platform to date, it must be understood that the same people who design malware like CrytoLocker are more than likely working on ingenious mobile device attacks as well.

Virtual currencies

Virtual currencies have recently been in the news due to their supposed meteoric rise in adoption and value. The growth of Bitcoin alone is enough to attract the attention of hackers and malicious software engineers alike. If you own or are considering owning a virtual currency, security must be a primary concern.

The very nature of virtual currencies, in that they are anonymous and increasingly hard to track, entices entrepreneurs and criminals alike. Expect attacking ransomware like CryptoLocker to continue to use virtual currencies in order to hide illicit payments from authorities.

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