For nearly 10 years viruses endured as the primary method of attack, but over time were largely matched by defenders’ talents to block and protect against them. Motivated by the notoriety and knowledge gained by discovering and publicizing a new vulnerability, attackers continued to innovate. What ensued were distinct threat cycles. From macro viruses to worms to spyware and rootkits, approximately every five years attackers would launch new types of threats and defenders would protect against them.
It’s no surprise that we can map these cycles to major technology shift that presented new attack vectors. Early viruses targeted primarily the operating system and were spread by the ‘sneaker net.’ Macro viruses took advantage of users sharing files. Worm-type threats that moved from machine to machine leveraged enterprise networks and the increasing use of the Internet. And spyware and rootkits emerged with new applications, devices and online communities.
This brings us to today, when we find ourselves combating advanced malware, targeted attacks and advanced persistent threats (APTs). Is this just the latest threat wave, or is this more akin to a tsunami? A confluence of factors makes these threats more damaging than anything we have experienced in the past. These factors includes an explosion of attack vectors such as the advent of mobilization, bring your own device (BYOD), virtualization and the cloud that have spurred a breadth of new devices, infrastructure and networks, and a range of operating systems and applications that provide new, efficient mechanisms to transport malware and conduct attacks. And while social media, mobile applications, websites and Web-enabled applications have created new ways for a variety of users to connect (employees, partners, customers), they have also exposed individuals and organizations to new inbound and outbound security threats. Read more here
The upcoming cyber-security threat cycle