McAfee points out cyber-criminals' likely targets..!!

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McAfee Labs released its annual "Threat Predictions" on Tuesday, highlighting online vulnerabilities that cyber-criminals are likely to target in the coming year.

They include URL shortening services like, social geolocation services such as Gowalla, mobile devices like smart phones, and the Mac operating system, which has long been considered a less attractive target than Microsoft's far more popular Windows.

The Santa Clara security company also anticipates more "hacktivism" in 2011, along the lines of the denial of service and other attacks launched by WikiLeaks supporters against companies and individuals deemed to be critical of the site.

Any dire warnings from a company like McAfee should be considered against the fact that it makes money by selling security software and services. But they're not alone in sounding the alarm for several of these potential areas of susceptibility.

In nearly all of these cases, the growing threats are tied to increasing usage, the company said. Because cyber-attacks require considerable work, hackers only tend to spend the time to infiltrate software and services that are widely used and promise some kind of a financial payoff. It's why the dominant Windows platform has long been a ripe target.

But now, millions of people are adopting mobile gadgets like Android smart phones and Apple's iPhone and iPad, as well as social networking services like Facebook, Twitter and Gowalla.

Meanwhile, the user base for Apple's OS for personal computers has rapidly expanded in recent years as well.

Credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, shopping habits, frequently visited locations and other information frequently pass through these devices and services, making them potentially attractive targets for criminals who can exploit the data.

For instance, URL-shortening services, made popular by the desire to share content on social sites like Twitter and Facebook, create abbreviated URLs that cyber-criminals could use to mask links to malicious sites, McAfee said.



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