Eset warns of rise in online payment attacks

Online payment systems will attract more malware this year, and be a bigger target for cyber criminals, according to internet security firm Eset Ireland.

In its cyber threat predictions for 2015, the company warns of a rise in targeted attacks, a rise in attacks on online payment systems and a rise in Internet of Things cyber attacks.

“If there is one lesson we have learned in recent years, it is that targeted attacks are a rising trend, and next year won’t be an exception,” Eset says.

The predictions follow a series of high-profile cyber attacks in recent weeks, including the Sony hacking and the interruption of the PlayStation and Xbox Live online gaming networks on Christmas Day.

Eset says that 2014 saw the rise of innovative payment methods, such as bitcoin and Apple Pay, adding that these systems have become increasingly attractive to malware authors interested in financial gain.

“In parallel with the growing use of online payment systems, the cyber crime interest in attacking them grows too,” the company says.

Hacker harvest

Last year saw the largest known digital payment attack to date, with a hacker reportedly harvesting more than $600,000 in bitcoins and dogecoins by using a network of infected machines. Furthermore, several big companies, such as Yahoo, Match and AOL were hit by ransomware in 2014.

Eset says that whole new categories of digital devices are getting connected to the internet, from domestic appliances to home security and climate control. “The trend will accelerate in 2015, but sadly we see no reason why these things won’t become a target for cyber crime.

“During 2014, we saw some evidence of this emerging trend, like attacks on cars. Attacks and proofs of concept were shown attacking several smart TVs, Boxee TV devices, biometric systems on smartphones, routers and also Google glasses”.

Eset says that some reports of Internet of Things hacking have exaggerated the scale of the problem, adding that it will likely take a few more years until the sector is widely targeted.

The company makes predictions on cyber crime on an annual basis. Last year, it warned of serious threats to Android phones and tablets, an assault on internet privacy and high-tech malware targeting PCs and other devices in the home; it says now that most of these occurred.