In 2016 Smartphones, IoT and Mobile Payment Top List for Break-ins

Malware will grow. Attacks on Android and other mobile devices will continue. And payment platforms and the Internet of Things will become sources for new kinds of vulnerabilities. These are all predictions from security vendor Panda Software for the new year.

Panda security researchers predict rapid continued growth of new forms of malware, particularly code tucked inside JavaScript and PowerShell. The latter is a Windows 10 automation tool that allows scripts to be executed, which, Panda reported, "could be used to attack users."

Cyber criminals will also turn to tried and true methods such as the use of exploit kits to reach as many people and machines as possible. That reach will include malware on smartphones, especially on Android, the most popular mobile operating system on the market, Panda predicted.

"Although Android attacks have been commonplace in recent years, the news for 2016 is the manner in which mobiles will be infected. We will see more threats that root the device, which makes eliminating it a near impossible task for an antivirus, except for those that come installed from the factory", said Luis Corrons, a technical director at PandaLabs, the company's research arm, in a press release.

The Internet of Things and mobile payment will also become the newest target. The company pointed to the 2015 coverage of cars whose software is connected to the Internet, which allowed for the remote control of the vehicle. Two coders showed how to exploit vulnerabilities in the onboard computers of a Jeep Cherokee in order to control the vehicle, including applying the brakes.

As IoT builds in popularity and increasing numbers of devices are connected online, criminals will seek out new vectors for gaining access to personal and enterprise networks. "If any of the platforms becomes more popular compared to the others, it will be the first one to be looked at by the attackers as they search for weaknesses in its system," noted Corrons.

Thieves will also hunt out vulnerabilities on mobile payment platforms, Panda suggested, as easy ways to "steal money directly."

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.