McAfee Releases 2011 Threat Predictions: What Made the List?

McAfee has peered into its crystal ball for security threats in the New Year, and if you’re a fan of Android, iPhone, Foursquare, Google TV, or Twitter, look out.

Those items top the list of the Santa Clara, California-based security firm’s annual McAfee Threat Predictions report released Tuesday.

“We’ve seen significant advancements in device and social-network adoption, placing a bullseye on the platforms and services users are embracing the most,” said Vincent Weafer, senior vice president of McAfee Labs. “These platforms and services have become very popular in a short amount of time, and we’re already seeing a significant increase in vulnerabilities, attacks and data loss.”

As more computing is done on-the-go, via smartphones, tablet computers and the like, cybercriminals will likely go the mobile route too, targeting those devices and leading to an increased risk of personal and corporate data loss, McAfee said in the report.

And Apple products could also be a victim of their own success as well. The report noted that as the use of devices like the iPhone and iPad rise in business settings, hackers and tech-thieves will increasingly target them too.

While social media sites like Facebook and Google have been at the center of privacy breaches of late, URL-shortening services will be at the forefront of cybercrime activity in 2011, the report said.

We reported just this month on a security alert for shortened URLs on Twitter, and McAfee warned of the same, noting, “the use of shortened web addresses on sites such as Twitter leaves users vulnerable to cybercriminals who can easily mask and lead users to malicious websites.”

More than 3,000 URLs are shortened per minute, the company said, and a growing number of those Web addresses are actually sites that can barrage users with spam, malware and other scams to get a user’s data.

And, leaving no social network unscathed, McAfee also warned location-based websites and apps such as Foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook Places will be exploited because they track and plot the whereabouts of users and their friends.

“In just a few clicks, cybercriminals can see in real time who is tweeting, where they are located, what they are saying, what their interests are, and what operating systems and applications they are using,” McAfee said. “This wealth of personal information on individuals enables cybercriminals to craft a targeted attack.”

Rounding out the report, new Internet TV platforms, such as Google TV, will also come under attack, McAfee reports, and your next computer virus could come from a friend. Malicious content disguised as friendly, personal e-mails and files to trick unsuspecting victims will increase in sophistication in the coming year.

Finally, McAfee warned that companies with involvement in national security or major global economic activities should expect to come under “pervasive and continuous” attack. More specifically, the company said to look out for more politically motivated attacks as new groups emerge, following on the heels of WikiLeaks.

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