LogRythm's Goldhammer agrees: "We should also expect to see an increase in nation state attacks and hacktivism. It might be hard for some people to believe that we'll see an increase in 2013 after so many well-documented and publicized attacks, but I expect we'll see hacktivists take much more aggressive measures."
While earlier attacks may have just embarrassed a country or company via website defacement or exposing their databases publicly, Goldhammer says he expects that to change: "I can see splinter cells of hackers take more aggressive means to cripple networks or corrupt data, or use ransom tactics, in order to financially punish or tactically weaken. In 2012, more and more evidence shows nation states using malware or using exploits to gain information or to attack infrastructure. In 2013, I expect to see headlines talking about a growing number of nation states building exploits against each other, both for data retrieval, data corruption and damage to infrastructure."
McAfee and Trend Micro both concur.
"Destructive payloads in malware have become rare because attackers prefer to take control of their victims' computers for financial gain or to steal intellectual property," McAfee Labs says. "Recently, however, we have seen several attacks-some apparently targeted, others implemented as worms-in which the only goal was to cause as much damage as possible. We expect this malicious behavior to grow in 2013."
"Whether this is hacktivism taken to a new level, as some claim, or just malicious intent is impossible to say, but the worrying fact is that companies appear to be rather vulnerable to such attacks," McAfee adds. "As with distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks, the technical bar for the hackers to hurdle is rather low. If attackers can install destructive malware on a large number of machines, then the result can be devastating."
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