Security in 2012: A look back at Q1

Today, ‘Mobile’ has become a technology buzzword. Mobile technology, of course, refers to portable technology, which run the gamut from mobile phones and laptops to global positioning system (GPS) devices. Like any other kind of technology, mobile technology has its disadvantages and concerns, including that of security.

Android under attack

Android-based smartphones suffered from more criminal attacks this quarter. With the increased use of smartphones for web browsing, it is no surprise that the number of mobile attacks increased. The popularity of apps led to the existence of bogus Android apps like the fake ‘Temple Run’ and optimizer apps. One prominent mobile threat this quarter was one-click billing fraud, which can charge a user up to $1,300 just for clicking a button.

Data breaches and APTs

As the name implies, persistence is key when it comes to Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs). Attackers go deep into a target’s network to get what they want. Highly targeted attacks are categorized as ‘campaigns’, as these refer to a series of failed or successful attempts to compromise a targeted network. One notable example of this is the Luckycat campaign, which targeted several industries. Common lures for targeted attacks this quarter include popular sports figures and sociopolitical events.

Social media threats

Social networking has created a generation of users more likely to reveal personal data to third parties. Social media has become an effective platform for cybercriminals to spread malware. Even more troubling is the fact that the presence of cybercriminals and cunning social engineering lures put not only users at risk, but also the companies they work for. Even newly formed social networking sites were not spared this quarter, with survey scams finding their way to Pinterest.


The number of reported vulnerabilities this quarter showed that threats can easily spread among systems and possibly even mobile devices. One vulnerability, MS12-020 (CVE-2012-002), was given the highest rating on Microsoft’s exploitability index, as it can consistently be exploited even by unathenticated users. MS12-020 allows cybercriminals to remotely execute commands on infected systems.

Among vendors, Apple posted the highest number of reported vulnerabilities this quarter, along with a record-breaking number of patches.


Blended threats are cybercriminals’ answer to causing greater damage to unsuspecting users. Ransomware reared its ugly head once more, taking systems or files ‘hostage’ until victims paid up. One SINOWAL variant spread using a compromised Dutch site. Other notable threats included spoofed emails bearing a malicious JavaScript and backdoors that stole sensitive information.

Some days, you just want to stay inside and read a book.


About SCB Enterprises
System Solutions and Integration

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