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More Cybercrime Predicted For 2012

If the predictions from security experts are correct, 2012 will see cyber attacks with increased frequency and maliciousness.  But cyber security research specialists believe that even determined hackers can be stopped if more stringent security measures are adopted early in the game.

The Anonymous hacker group made headlines this year with the significant damage it did, the last being a host of information obtained from popular global security company Stratfor. On December 30, the collective uploaded all of the information they obtained from the security company, including thousands of usernames and passwords.  As a result, the Stratfor web site is currently shut down until complete security can be assured.

Anonymous’s exploits have included denial of service (DDOS) attacks on government and online payment sites, and it is considered to be one of the three major successors to Wikileaks. The group relies on the actions of computer users around the world to achieve any common goal, such as attempts to crack the systems of supposedly secure web sites or unleash worldwide protests.

Research into the hacker group has revealed a wide array of worldwide arrests of and warrants for those suspected of being or claiming to be affiliated with Anonymous.

Another prominent hacker group, LulzSec, has also announced its many exploits online which have also included the pilfering of credit card information and attacks on major media companies Sony and Fox. The two groups have had their differences over the past couple of years, but recently agreed to work together to form Operation Anti-Security, a campaign to obtain and leak classified government information.

But the groups may have some obstacles to overcome this month, when the National Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity Education Initiative is launched. The NCICE plans to work with public and private sectors to develop cybersecurity education programs, along with calling for infrastructure frameworks to be completed as soon as possible.

Tripwire’s chief technology officer Dwayne Melancon says a critical component of Federal government security is the incorporation of “secure configurations and system configuration baselining as a core part of any recommendations for improving security “. In addition, Melancon says that there are still many companies who aren’t following their own documented processes and standards, which can leave any organization wide open to hacking activity.

Some believe that there is no such thing as a web site that’s completely secure. But others argue that reducing the amount of information that is placed online can go a long way to reducing the impact of an attack. So for example, a company that keeps its clients’ personal information offline may find that it’s far less vulnerable to a hacker attack than a corporation that does not.

So where does this leave larger hacker groups like Anonymous and LulzSec? If past incidences are any indication, new ways to infiltrate secure systems may be created almost as soon as new security measures are implemented. But exploits from groups of this kind aren’t always meant to do harm; a major child pornography ring was busted and participant names posted by the Anonymous hacker collective just this past October.

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