Information Security Trends to Watch for in 2011

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Theresa Payton


2010 brought new and interesting things to do on the internet like the free game sensation “Angry Birds”…Wondering what 2011 might bring on the internet?

2010 - 5 Headlines from the "Dark Side" of the Internet

1.  Snooping:  We kicked off the 2010 year with an attack on Google labeled Operation Aurora where it appeared that email accounts of Chinese dissidents had been snooped through

2.  Traffic Jam?  Accidental hijacking of 15% of the world's internet traffic through servers in China

3.  Critical Infrastructure:  Stuxnet worm hits industrial control systems

4.  Wikileaks

5.  Devastating Consequences:  A young man is "outed" at college after being secretly videotaped and commits suicide

2010 - 5 Headlines from the "Force Side" of the Internet

1.  Saving Lives:  American Dan Woolley of Colorado Springs said his iPhone saved his life when he was caught in the Hotel Montana in Port-au-Prince afer the Haiti Earthquake.  He used the iPhone to treat his injuries and to take steps to avoid going into shock.  He also mapped his surroundings and moved to a safer spot while awaiting rescue.  (See Mashable's story by Barb Dybwad called "Haiti Earthquake Survivor:  'My iPhone Saved My Life' ").

2.  Entertainment:  Angry Birds becomes the top downloaded game.

3.  Voices Heard:  A man has his jail sentence commuted when his legally purchased guns were not properly registered when he moved to NJ.  His girlfriend launches a major campaign via Facebook telling his side of the story and it gets attention and he goes free.

4.  Shoppers unite! - crowdsourcing and free applications come together to put the power of competitive shopping, researching, and rankings in the palm of your hand, your smartphone, when you hit the stores.  Apps like RedLaser and TheFind give the consumer the shopping edge.

5.  Charity Hits Social Media:  Jumo, Causes, and Crowdrise provide a great platform for fundraising, connecting with others that have similar charity interests, and allows anyone from individuals to non profits to raise money for good causes.

The top trends for next year -- highlighting the fun side and some tips to stay safe from those pesky cybercreeps and cybercriminals.

Expect to see more of this:  SMISHING.   

We’re all used the term Phishing – Phishing is when cybercreeps send you an email trying to get you to click on bad links or open documents which install malicious software on your computer. 

"Smishing" is a mashup of phishing with the SMS feature on your phone.  Examples of recent smishing scams:  a bogus message on a smart phone that makes it look like it came from your bank, or store, or the phone company. 

The message typically asks you to click on a link or asks you to call into a number.   If  you see a message like this, look up the number first before calling to make sure you are not a victim of smishing.  

1. Email declines, Messaging increases and Leetspeak, those short text messages, will be more mainstream   

The Death of Email has been predicted but according to my inbox, it is still going strong.  Statistics do show that email has "peaked" in popularity.  Visitors to Yahoo and Hotmail mail sites peaked in 2009 and are declining.  Gmail traffic is up.

Fun side:  Young people are adopting online chats and text messages.  Facebook offers instant messaging and is dabbling in email like services.  Leetspeak:  it’s hip, it’s quick, it’s easy to use and saves your fingers from typing.

a. What is Leetspeak?  Leetspeak, or text messages, are those abbreviated messages you may use when you are texting someone.  Most people use  them on Facebook, in emails, Twitter, and other places online.  Examples:   “IMHO” In my humble opinion or “LOL” Laugh out loud.

b.  Want to translate it?  Go to

Dark side:  But there is a dark side, when kids and young adults using texting terms  or even sexting terms to keep you from knowing what they are up to.  

a. How to Protect Yourself:  Talk to your kids.  Ask them what their texting means if you do not know or look it up by typing it into a search engine.  Example:  The top status check or phrase used in for Facebook in 2010?  It was “HMU”!  As in Hit Me Up.  Parents need to be aware!  It could just mean give me a call but it could hold additional meanings.  HMU even beat out phrases like “World Cup” “iPad” and “Justin Bieber”.

2. Location, Location, Location  

Fun side:  This is the year that we can all know where each other is at any point in time, and down to our specific satellite coordinates.

a. How?  The location information, or geocoding, is captured in your digital videos, digital photos, check in software, and more.  This is a fun way to “bump” into people and keep up with friends and family.

Dark side:  People know where you or your kids are…as well as where they are not.

a. Example:  Facebook has a new feature that can automatically check faces, compare them to previously tagged faces, and suggest the name of the person in the photo.  Handy tool?  Yes, and no.

b. How to Protect Yourself:  If you have young children and adults on Facebook, be careful about using names with their pictures.  You would not want pictures to be out of your control, posted on other people’s pages, with your kids names on them

3. Smart Phones become Mobile Life  

Fun Side:  With new features and new apps you have an amazing tool that fits in your pocket – your smart phone!

a. You will be able to leave your wallet at home and pay for things with it; you can play games on it; you can message and network with others; and you will be able to link all your social networking accounts together so you can keep up with everyone.

Dark Side:  Your mobile life is a target.  Criminals go where the action is and your phone is a popular target for cybersnooping, scams, and theft.

b. How to Protect Your Smart Phone & Your Mobile Life:

1) Know your WiFi:  Avoid free WiFi on your phone when possible.  Many people will use free WiFi when using their phone for surfing or browsing – meaning you are leaving your mobile life open for everyone to peek in!

2) Lock it:  Password lock and protect your phone.

3) Update it:  Treat your phone like a computer because it is one!  Keep the operating system up to date.

4) Bogus App Alert:  Stay away from downloading apps unless you know it is legitimate

5) Phone Locator Software:  Ask your vendor if they have a locator service that allows you to track your phone and pinpoint it if lost and perhaps even wipe the device using a command from your home computer

Three Simple Rules to have fun but also be safe:

1. STOP:  Don’t broadcast your location to strangers – assume your phone and camera always are unless you turn that feature off

2. LOOK:  Don’t click on email links or call a number provided to you in an email without on any device you own without looking at another source first

3. LISTEN:  The common sense you apply to the physical world still applies to the internet – if you would not do something offline because of safety, you shouldn’t do it online


For Locator Apps to be able to find your lost or stolen Smart Phone, talk to your vendor BEFORE you phone is lost or stolen.   You will need to register it and test settings.

Want to know what was hot in 2010?  Here is a sample of some trends that were tracked on the internet.

Top Searches for 2010 Highlighted by Google:

Top Searches for 2010 Highlighted by Bing:

Top Trends for Phrases and Status on Facebook from 2010:

Top Trends for Twitter from 2010:

The Top 100 FREE Smart Phone Apps By PC Magazine:,2817,2366292,00.asp

Apple’s Top 10 Paid For Apps in 2010 By Area Cell Phone:

Cross-posted from Fortalice

Possibly Related Articles:
Security Awareness
Facebook Social Networking Cyber Crime Stuxnet Smart Phone Smishing
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