This year's major malware trend will be the appearance of more Stuxnet and Flame-style ‘cyber weapons', internet security firm AVG's CTO, Yuval Ben-Itzhak, has revealed to Computing.
"Stuxnet and Flame have already happened, and have shown that this powerful malware can become accessible to others, and we're starting to see people increasingly utilising this sophisticated malware that is sponsored by governments," Ben-Itzhak told Computing at the company's threat labs in Brno, Czech Republic.
Stuxnet and Flame, which were identified in 2010 and 2012 respectively, have both been linked to the US and Israeli governments, who are alleged to have used the malware to sabotage critical infrastructure systems of various global targets, including Iran.
"It's going to be keeping security officers in a lot of countries quite busy, so from their perspective that's going to be a major player this year," said Ben-Itzhak.
However, he was less sure about the continued influence of so-called ‘hacktivist' groups, the threat from which be believes has been hyped up by the media.
"Hacktivism was always there - Anonymous is really just branding," Ben-Itzhak told Computing.
"Every time there's a major news event, there's always been a wave of it. So hacktivism is a part of life. They were always communicating. Even now, ICQ [a social networking program launched in 1996, but now of diminished consumer interest] is still a main place for them - it's mainly populated by hackers now."
Ben-Itzhak said that "headlines and slogans calling [hacktivists] 'Anonymous' is pretty in the press", but the only real advantage the hackers have over the "dialup days" is an increased and sustained global connectivity.
However, Ben-Itzhak suggested that while internet-based press coverage of world political events speeds up the response of hacktivists to these events, the same fast channel of news reporting is also building an undeserved reputation for the groups as they become linked to the events.
"The more connected we are, the quicker the response," he stated.
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