Football and Cyber-Criminals

This might sound odd to compare Football Players to Cyber-Criminals as you would be correct in assuming that they are very different people. In truth they have nothing in common.

Where there is a common element is that there are times where they are both doing something in order to influence a third party to make a decision/s that will benefit them. Lets look at a couple of different examples and the benefits to the influencer.

The primary purpose of the tackle is to dispossess the opponent of the ball, to prevent the opponent from gaining ground or to stop them from carrying out what they intended.

How often do we see a footballer deliberately make a tackle look a lot worse than it really is, a term oft used is to “dive”. The purpose behind this action is to try and influence the referee to award him a penalty (if he has taken a “dive” in the penalty area) or get a free kick and or to get the referee to penalise the offending player further by giving him either a yellow or a red card.

A Cyber-Criminal’s purpose when sending you an email either trying to get you to send him your personal information or pointing you to a false web site with the same goal and that is to try and find ways to obtain as much personal information about you with the intention of  using this information for devious means.

The methods and intentions are different, as are the outcomes and end results are used differently. The Footballer wants to create an unfair advantage in order to score goals and to ultimately win the game. The Cyber-Criminal wants to capture your personal information for illegal means and financial gains.

First IBM PC

1981 - IBM 5150 PC

I recently came across an article that was reflecting on the very first IBM PC and thought that it might be of interest. If IBM had never developed the Personal Computer and we had continued to work with mainframes would we be experiencing the current Phishing and Malware attacks today? We can never answer this question but I am sure that the Cyber – Criminals would still be trying to “steal” our personal information in some form or another.

Here is some text from the original article:

“The system has much to commend it, both for serious and fun applications, since it can grow from a fairly expensive cassette-based configuration to a full-blown twin disk/colour graphics machine that offers the competition a fair run for its money. It almost goes without saying that the computer is well made, keeping up IBM’s legendary reputation for quality.”

IBM kept their plans to launch a personal computer very quiet and swore key people and companies to secrecy. Microsoft were very involved from the very beginning and initially the PC was only sold in the US. At the time IBM were not able to comment on whether or not the PC would be sold in Britain.

IBM also mentioned that “the whole design is very pleasing and all the parts clearly belong together. Everything is designed with a first-time user in mind. IBM has gone overboard to make the system as easy as possible to configure and use.”

The author made some final comments mentioning that this was probably the most professionally put-together system that they had ever seen. the only thing that they felt was missing was a wide selection of packages but they felt that the whole world and it’s grandmother would be frantically trying to fill that gap.

We have certainly come a long way since 1981 what with Smart Phones and Tablets being all the current rage and we are more and more reliant on these products for our day to day lives.

Malware Threats on the Rise

The Juniper “2011 Mobile Threats Report” uncovered more than 28,000 pieces of Malware last year which equated to a rise of 155 percent from 2010. The most popular target for these Malware threats was the Android operating system. Juniper’s figures excluded any Malware samples for iOS (Apple). This is not to say that non exists but Apple does not release such data or allow access to this information.

Prior to 2011 most mobile Malware was targeted at Nokia’s Symbian and Java ME which runs on feature phones. Juniper has since noticed a huge shift towards Android. There was an increase of 3,325 percent in Malware aimed at Google Mobile Operating Systems from 400 in June 2011 to 13,000 by the end of 2011.. This is possibly due to Android’s leading market share and the lack of control over the apps found in Android app stores that have attracted more Malware writers.

Juniper uncovered a large number of malicious apps from third-party Android app stores which are not protected by Google’s new Bouncer service, a tool that can scan Android market for potentially malicious software without disrupting the user experience of Android market.

“Many device manufacturer’s build customised versions of the Android operating system and as a result, certain devices do not receive – or must wait months to receive security updates,” Juniper said. “This means that even patched security vulnerabilities and new security features may not get published to all devices, making them less secure and more vulnerable to Malware.”

Google was kept quite busy last year removing Malware from Android market and from mobile devices especially as the bad guys became more sophisticated last year. The company has tried to keep up by jettisoning the malicious apps as quickly possible. But the discovery process can sometimes take days Juniper noted,leaving more than enough time for the payload to infect smartphones and tablets.