By Ian Moyse - EMEA Channel Director, Webroot

The internet has given the few the ability to cheaply and easily target the many, like we never saw before. It fast became the marketers dream and changed the ways of targeted campaigns. We saw the rise of the spammer and now we live with sophisticated social engineering attacks hitting weekly if not daily. While the increases in incidents may indicate more intruders attacking, the reality is the majority of the increase is due to the growth of the Internet and its very nature. The internet makes us all contactable and to a degree easily identifiable as we leave our electronic fingerprint as we go via social networking sites, sites visited, cookies, blog postings and tracking software we may have installed such as site loggers and search tool bar monitors.

Users are more susceptible to the social engineering scam than ever before with the fakes looking like the genuine article, determining a real site from a fake is more and more difficult as its training users to not post too much information about themselves online. The growth in the Web and availability of inexpensive computers has lead to more insecure computers and more sophisticated and empowered hackers probing the Internet. With the web entrenched in our daily lives and social networking sites growing faster pace than we have ever seen before the ability for someone to connect to vast volumes of people cheaply is upon us. With this great access comes greater threats. An incident nowadays can affect anything from a single computer to a range of host computers at hundreds of thousands of locations in a relatively short space of time.

In moving from centralised computing to distributed, the business world has enabled the attacker to follow suit — to disperse and grow their attacks to volumes never envisaged before and to allow one individual to reach out to millions with scams, spyware and exploits. Never before in history has one individual with a lack of resource or funds been so empowered to use knowledge to the detriment of so many so quickly. We now see organized crime bringing together teams of these “expert” attackers and funding them far past the threat of the lone geek backroom hacker/spammer. The question is how long before we see a repeat of the growth of volume in spam for example in 2007 over 2006 when there was a 400% year over year growth. Now we talk of the growth of malware, phishing, backscatter as well as spam and the impact is in weeks or months rather than years. Is there a newe type of scaled attack coming, is there a larger spyware spambot already laying dorment waiting for its home beacon to alarm it into action. No one can predict, but we can be sure with them monetry gain being made by these illegal means of attack there is no motivation for them to stop trying.

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