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2011: The Good, the Bad & the Ugly

Thursday, 30 December 2010 08:18 in Blogs, Features by Jart Armin

Gazing into the crystal ball for some predictions for 2011, I found to my horror that the year ahead could be filled with some pretty scary stuff. Not wishing to dampen anyone's holiday spirit, especially my own, I gazed for a little while longer, just to make sure I hadn't missed anything.

Sure enough, before too long the mist parted, just long enough for a few good tidings to appear on the horizon. So for a slightly different twist, and to prove it's not all doom and gloom, here are my predictions for the good, the bad, and the ugly for the Internet in the coming year:

2011: The Good

HTTPS for all. Unsecured networks are a gift we shouldn't be pleased to hand out to opportunistic hackers this Christmas or anytime. So HTTPS will become ubiquitous. In this vein, the Electronic Frontier Foundation have been developing a tool, HTTPS Everywhere, a Firefox extension that encrypts communication with a number of major Websites.

Opt outs for all. In 2011, Web advertisers will provide workable opt-outs for the entire gamut of behavioral advertising. I've described how to do this from the user standpoint, and Stanford Law Center has its do not track us own project underway. Now the Federal Trade Commission has taken up the cause, endorsing "Do Not Track" measures.

FTC, SEC, EU Commission tackle operator shenanigans. These groups will make more inroads into Black Hat SEO (search engine optimization) operations. Facebook, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG), and other search engine operators will be taken to task in the US, EU, and other countries to clean up what is presented to the average surfer.

ICANN gets serious. ICANN will finally deal with the estimated 8.5+ million active domains with false "who is" information. If they don't, after allocating $150,000 to an analysis of the problem, then something really is amiss with the ICANN board and its decisions.

Russia gets tough. Stricter laws and jail time for spammers and cyber-criminals will be essential for Russia's advancement in tech. Happily, signs of change are underway.

Copyright trolling tanks. The year 2010 saw the rise of a nasty piece of opportunism, where loopholes in legislation are exploited. The EFF recently logged victory in the fight against copyright trolls when a judge in West Virginia blocked an attempt to unmask accused file sharers who had been coerced by the fear of embarrassment into making settlements.

2011: The Bad

Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) users victimized. Apple PC, iPad, and iPhone owners will increasingly become victims of cybercrime as attackers adapt or switch their exploit kits and malware to circumvent vulnerabilities in the newer technologies. Security will once again have catch up with the fraudsters. Rumor has it that the first iPad and iPhone malware is spreading over this Christmas.

Social network worms proliferate. Worms will increase as Twitter becomes more and more of a malware paradise. Despite some success against Koobface servers this year, the worm is not down and out by any means. Koobface will be back.

Privacy U-turns. A US Department of Commerce report says some data collection on the Web "may fail to meet consumers' expectations of privacy." And the Obama administration is calling for a"privacy bill of rights". We'll see.

Legislation increases. The discussion on net neutrality will roll on, with more legislation threatening freedom. The new rules could result in a two-tiered system where fast lanes, or prioritization, for some paid content would be allowed, some suggest. Will net neutrality survive the course of 2011?

2011: The Ugly

Smartphone botnets. A real ugly one for the coming year, as reported in a report from the European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA). Top risks include spyware, poor data cleansing when recycling phones, accidental data leakage, and unauthorized premium-rate phone calls and SMSes.

Info wars. No mention of 2010 would be complete without WikiLeaks somewhere. Security aside, it has heralded a new era of info wars, which will increase throughout 2011. The DDoS attacks surrounding WikiLeaks have shown what a simple botnet can do. We are bound to see these being refined and targeted toward individuals in a severe form of cyberbullying.

Utility disruption. Unfortunately, as the application of PC-based peripheral devices remains unabated, Stuxnet-like attacks will cause chaos on critical Infrastructures worldwide. The full potential and impact are yet to be realized.

Chips and processors hijacked. The increased use of chip-based smart technology -- e.g., ZigBee-based RF (radio frequency) circuits -- increase the threat of attacks on networks, PCs, and such peripherals as modems and routers. No one ever thought the first chip could be remotely hacked, did they?

Extortion and ransomware progress. Expect more of this in the coming year.

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