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McAfee: Adobe to be the worst hacker target next year

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December 31, 2009

Internet security firm McAfee says that Adobe will probably replace Microsoft as the prime target for attackers and virus writers in 2010. Hackers targeting software vulnerabilities in Acrobat Reader and Flash Reader are already commonplace, driven in part by that software's widespread use.

The often-tricky update process and lack of user awareness that apps as well as browsers and Windows need updating further compounds the problem of PDF-based malware, which McAfee predicts will only increase in 2010, and the security company says that things will get worse before they get better.

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McAfee also predicts an increase in the severity and the scope of specific hacking attacks aimed at users of social networking websites such as Twitter and Facebook. The company added that banking Trojans will become even more sophisticated, perhaps by gaining the ability to interrupt legitimate financial transactions and make unauthorised withdrawals without even being detected.

Additionally, malware in email attachments, a common ploy in targeted attacks, is also expected to grow exponentially in 2010.

These predictions more or less reflect current trends predicted by other security firms as well. The one new highlight in McAfee's threat report published yesterday is the prediction that HTML 5.0 will give cybercriminals new opportunities to write malware and prey on users.

So-called Internet mark-up technology that is expected to be available soon is meant to reduce the overall reliance on proprietary browser plug-ins for Adobe Flash, Microsoft Silverlight, and Sun Java.

However, the new standard is still a work-in-progress, and elements of the technology are already supported by Google Chrome, a fact that could spawn a new line of hacking attacks, McAfee warns.

Overall, HTML 5 holds all the promises that today’s Internet community seeks - primarily that of blurring and removing the lines between a web application and a desktop application.

McAfee warns that HTML 5-based attacks will become even more tempting once the Google Chrome Operating System is released.

It’s scheduled for around mid-July of 2010.

At the same time, botnets (the main currency of cyberattacks) are likely to move further away from reliance on command and servers towards a peer-to-peer architecture that's more resilient against takedown efforts, says the security firm.

Google's Chrome operating system is mostly intended for use with small laptops and netbooks, and HTML 5.0 enables not only a rich web experience, but also can accomodate offline applications as well.

Another strong motivation for attackers is HTML 5’s anticipated cross-platform support, which will allow attackers to eventually reach users of many mainstream browsers, and not just IE and Firefox.

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Source: McAfee.

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