Tag Archives: 2010

IdentityMine’s 2010 Report On Mobile Application Development Trends

imageI’ve been around computing since long before the PC was even a spark in the consciousness of those involved in data manipulation.

I’m speaking here of a computer that is used in a “personal” manner. In fact, my first exposure to computers and programming was (if you can imagine this), in 1966.

In the years since, I’ve watched the incredible growth and buoyancy of the PC and connected devices market, with absolute amazement. But, the growth in the mobile market, and the  increased functionality of mobile devices, has not only amazed me, but has left me dizzy!

I found that keeping up with the breathtaking changes in the mobile/connected devices world, has been more than a bit of a challenge. Luckily, I discovered a solution that ties the missing bits and pieces together, all in one place.

IdentityMine, a leading-edge digital application and software solution developer for multi-screen, multi-touch, multi-platform, and multi-hardware devices, recently released its Application and Mobile Application Development Trends Report for 2011, which includes for good measure, a look at what we can expect in this expansive market in 2011.

This report has been the perfect catch up tool which brought into focus a number of data points that had completely passed me by. If you need a refresher on what’s been happening in the mobile market, and what’s likely to occur in the coming year, you’ll find the following information invaluable.

Application and Mobile Application Development Trends Impacting 2010 (and the Outlook for 2011):

1. In 2010, Mobile stopped being about form factor – it became about users. Mobile previously was defined as anything that can travel with you (not just phones) – including tablets. In 2010, Zuckerberg redefined mobile as anything that you can use while ambulating, which is basically anything that fits into your hands (and does not include tablets and laptops). We can already see this trend happening with iPhone 4 and Windows Phone 7.  In 2011, we can expect smaller form factor out of all our devices and the focus to shift from mobile devices to mobile users with a variety of hardware devices.

2. In 2010, IdentityMine became aware that Mobile devices were vector transmitters.  In 2010, IdentityMine created an unscientific study and found that touch-enabled devices like, iPads, smart phones and other devices particularly in high-traffic environments such as hospitals, retails stores, and hotel lobbies mobile devices transmitted illness.  When sick people use an iPad and pass it around, other people pick up germs.  In 2011, we can anticipate that healthcare will increase attention on gesture-based navigation (as opposed to touch-based) as a way to prevent disease/virus transmission.  We foresee applications for gesture everywhere from clinic waiting rooms to surgical suites.

3. In 2010, People let go of keyboards and mice. Two revolutionizing technologies occurred in rapid succession prompting this phenomena (iPad and Kinect). NOTE: iPad isn’t gesture-based. The iPad managed to do what tablets had been trying to achieve for some time, and surprisingly was a huge hit with seniors and baby boomers, who are not usually early adopters. Kinect was a game changer, particularly with developers. While some speculated that Kinect it seemed like a response to the Wii, Kinect actually taught UX experts new ideas about navigation and gesture control and they are already utilizing the hardware to produce applications that are gesture-based. We can expect more gesture-enabled and voice-enabled applications in 2011.

4. In 2010, the gaming market started redefining the software application market. We can expect this to continue into 2011.  Enterprise applications will take on gaming features with Gamification. We can expect companies to start managing employee activity through apps.  Anticipate that companies will integrate a reward/badge system.  Applications like Yelp, FourSquare, and Gowalla added game play to every day activities, and in 2011/2012, we expect enterprises and non-recreational applications to start incorporating gaming-style rewards to non-gaming behaviors.

Additional Application and Mobile Application Development Trends Impacting 2011:

1. Application Design becomes increasingly important. With the release of iPhone 4, Droid and Windows 7, mobile users became addicted to good design in 2010. Mobile application providers tried to provide intuitive applications. In 2011, we can expect that UX designers at agencies will be tasked to create beautiful intuitive design.

2. People will want the cloud even if they don’t realize they want the cloud. We can also expect that every application will need to function with a single login.  UX designs will be tasked to figure out how to minimize login experiences without compromising security.

3. In 2011, We can expect continued Market Fragmentation when developing applications. Even though developers are being pushed to choose between specializing in a UX (Mobile, Touch, Desktop, etc.) and specializing in a platform (IOS, .NET, Silverlight, MonoDroid, etc.), Developers will need to develop apps for multiple devices/platforms. Much like the .com boom, the strong will survive, while application development will become despecialized (especially as more tools are available)

4. Application development bubble will take on air. In 2010, consumers saw a plethora of applications hit the market. The bubble is growing, and will probably burst in the next 12-18 months.

5. Application Monetization will continue to take more of a focus. Many applications are incredibly cheap, considering the effort that goes into making a sophisticated one (such as IMDb or History Here or SBB). Because the price points make it difficult to monetize apps, there will be an increase in ad-sponsored apps.

6. Application utility will take more of a focus. Apple and other vendors are encouraging volume for application monetization. However, out of 250k apps in the Apple app store, only a small percentage actually are used long-term and have lasting impact. In 2011, we can expect there to be a host of applications that improve people’s lives. 3/4s of apps are deleted within 72 hours of being downloaded; in 2011 the focus will be on useful apps as much as fun ones.

7. Microsoft kicked some ass – both WP7 and Kinect, which came out mere months apart were legitimate advancements in technology, vs. the “long-follow” approach that they were typically accused of.  Windows Phone 7 is a big advancement for mobile app developers (which will ultimately benefit users), and Kinect leapfrogged Wii and other gaming companies are rushing to compete.

About IdentityMine, Inc.

Headquartered in Tacoma, WA, IdentityMine is an expert interactive design and user experience (UX) company. They develop leading-edge digital applications and software solutions for multi-screen, multi-touch, multi-platform, and multi-hardware devices for a variety of markets including mobile, retail and sports. They are able to create unique digital interactive user experiences by leveraging deep expertise in a variety of platforms to deliver highly engaging mobile, Internet and other media experiences for major brands in mainstream markets.

Clients include: Microsoft, Path 36, The New Orleans Saints, Elektra NOC, Nordstrom and others.  More information about IdentityMine can be found here.

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Filed under cell phone, Cell Phone Apps, Connected Devices, Integrated Solutions, Interconnectivity, iPad, Reports, Windows Tips and Tools

Symantec Hosted Services 2010 Security Report Released

imageLooking back at what we’ve experienced in the past, enhances our ability to look ahead, and as high level computer users’ (the majority of readers on this site), it’s important to try to get a feel for what we’re likely to encounter in the malware threat landscape in the coming year.

Symantec Hosted Services, MessageLabs Intelligence division, has just released it’s annual security report which presents, in some detail, data on the types of diversified attacks we had to content with this past year.

As a precursor of things to come, Symantec predicts that in 2011 – “botnet controllers will resort to employing steganography techniques to control their computers.

This means hiding their commands in plain view – perhaps within images or music files distributed through file sharing or social networking web sites. This approach will allow criminals to surreptitiously issue instructions to their botnets without relying on an ISP to host their infrastructure thus minimizing the chances of discovery”.

If the past is a reasonable predictor of the future, and it’s almost certain that it is, then it we’re in for another rough year.

2010 Report highlights:

Web Security: For 2010, the average number of new malicious websites blocked each day rose to 3,066 compared to 2,465 for 2009, an increase of 24.3 percent. MessageLabs Intelligence identified malicious web threats on 42,926 distinct domains, the majority of which were compromised legitimate domains.

Spam: In 2010 the annual average global spam rate was 89.1 percent, an increase of 1.4 percent on the 2009. In August, the global spam rate peaked at 92.2 percent when the proportion of spam sent from botnets rose to 95 percent as a new variant of the Rustock botnet was seeded and quickly put to use.

Viruses: In 2010, the average rate for malware contained in email traffic was 1 in 284.2 emails (0.352 percent) almost unchanged when compared with 1 in 286.4 (0.349%) for 2009. In 2010, over 115.6 million emails were blocked by Skeptic™ representing an increase of 58.1 percent compared with 2009. There were 339.673 different malware strains identified in the malicious emails blocked. This represents more than a hundred fold increase over 2009 and is due to growth in polymorphic malware variants.

Phishing: In 2010, the average ratio of email traffic blocked as phishing attacks was 1 in 444.5 (0.23 percent), compared with 1 in 325.2 (0.31 percent) in 2009. Approximately 95.1 billion phishing emails were projected to be in circulation in 2010.

Being aware of the shape of the Internet landscape, and the changes that are occurring, or may occur in that landscape, now, more than ever, is a necessity – a prerequisite to protecting yourself and your computer from cybercriminal attack. Forewarned is forearmed, needs to be your guiding light – appropriate knowledge will act as your shield.

Symantec’s latest MessageLabs Intelligence Report is scary stuff, and I encourage you to read this report which will give you some indication of where we’re likely headed, and what we’ll have to deal with.

The annual MessageLabs Intelligence Report provides greater detail on all the trends and figures noted above, as well as more detailed trends for 2010. The full report is available here.

About Message Labs Intelligence:

Symantec’s Message Labs Intelligence is a respected source of data and analysis for messaging security issues, trends and statistics. MessageLabs Intelligence provides a range of information on global security threats based on live data feeds from our control towers around the world scanning billions of messages each week.

About Symantec:

Symantec is a global leader in providing security, storage and systems management solutions to help consumers and organizations secure and manage their information-driven world.  Our software and services protect against more risks at more points, more completely and efficiently, enabling confidence wherever information is used or stored. More information is available here.

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Filed under cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, Interconnectivity, Malware Advisories, MessageLabs, Point of View, Reports, Symantec

Panda Security’s Collective Intelligence Says 20 Million New Strains Of Malware In 2010

imageIt may well be, that malware creators have discovered the same principal that countries involved in the the nuclear arms race have come to know – once you have enough weapons; you have enough.

According to Luis Corrons, technical director of PandaLabs – “so far in 2010, purely new malware has increased by only 50 percent, significantly less than the historical norm. It seems hackers are applying economies of scale, reusing old malicious code, or prioritizing the distribution of existing threats over the creation of new ones.”

Complacency though, is not in the cards , at least not yet, since Corrons went on to say –  “This doesn’t mean that there are fewer threats or that the cyber-crime market is shrinking. On the contrary, it continues to expand, and by the end of 2010 we will have logged more new threats in Collective Intelligence than in 2009.”

The evolution of malware – 2010:

The average number of new threats created daily has risen from 55,000 in 2009 to 63,000 in 2010 to date.

The average lifespan of 54% malware has been reduced to just 24 hours, compared to a lifespan of several months that was more common in previous years.

34% of all active malware threats were created this year.

20 million strains of malware have been created already this year; the same total for the year of 2009.

Many malware variants are created to infect just a few systems before they disappear. As antivirus solutions become able to detect new malware more quickly, hackers modify them or create new ones so as to evade detection.

image

Graphic courtesy of PandaLabs.

So, should these statistics hold any relevancy for you? Should you be preoccupied, or overly concerned, with these numbers? The answer, it seems to me, depends on how aware you are of the overall Internet security landscape, and where you fit into the following user groups.

  • Those who know.
  • Those who think they know.
  • Those who don’t know, that they don’t know.

Hopefully, you are in that small group who can confidently say – “I know”.

About PandaLabs:

Since 1990, PandaLabs, the malware research division of Panda Security, has led the industry in detecting, classifying and protecting consumers and businesses against new cyber threats.

At the core of the operation is Collective Intelligence, a proprietary system that provides real-time protection by harnessing Panda’s community of users to automatically detect, analyze, classify and disinfect more than 63,000 new malware samples daily.

The automated classification is complemented by a highly specialized global team of threat analysts, each focused on a specific type of malware, such as viruses, Trojans, worms, spyware and other exploits, to ensure around-the-clock protection.

Learn more about PandaLabs and subscribe to the PandaLabs blog here. Follow Panda on Twitter and Facebook.

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Filed under cybercrime, Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, Internet Security Alerts, Malware Reports, Online Safety, Panda Security, PandaLabs, Windows Tips and Tools

Symantec Rubs the 2010 Malware Crystal Ball

image We’ve long made the point on this Blog, that the Internet has turned into a playground for cyber-criminals. Further, we have made the point, and continue to make the point, that while the Internet may be a playground for criminals, there is little doubt – it is a minefield for the rest of us.

This past year, particularly in recent months, a number of tech writers employed by some of the larger company sponsored Blogs, have written of their troubling experiences following a rogue software infection on their personal machines. Technical sophistication then, may not be enough to ensure one’s security and safety on the Internet – it takes more than that.

Stumbling through the Internet landscape just won’t do. Surrounding your machine with every conceivable anti-malware application available, will not offer the protection needed to surf the Internet safely. You, and you alone, are the best protection against malware, scams, identity theft, and the host of additional dangers we all face on the Internet.

Being aware of the shape of the Internet landscape, and the potential changes that may occur in that landscape, now, more than ever, is a necessity – a prerequisite to protecting yourself and your computer from cybercriminal attack. Forewarned is forearmed, needs to be your guiding light – appropriate knowledge will act as your shield.

This year (2009), has been a record year for rogue security software ( with over 20,000 application currently in circulation), and Symantec Hosted Services, in a new report, predicts 2010 will offer no improvement.

Since knowledge is a principal key to Internet safety, the following report, courtesy of MessageLabs Intelligence and Symantec, will help prepare you for what is likely to be an onslaught of criminal activity on the Internet in 2010.

Security Trends to Watch in 2010:

Antivirus is Not Enough – With the rise of polymorphic threats and the explosion of unique malware variants in 2009, the industry is quickly realizing that traditional approaches to antivirus, both file signatures and heuristic/behavioral capabilities, are not enough to protect against today’s threats. We have reached an inflection point where new malicious programs are actually being created at a higher rate than good programs. As such, we have also reached a point where it no longer makes sense to focus solely on analyzing malware. Instead, approaches to security that look to ways to include all software files, such as reputation-based security, will become key in 2010.

Social Engineering as the Primary Attack Vector – More and more, attackers are going directly after the end user and attempting to trick them into downloading malware or divulging sensitive information under the auspice that they are doing something perfectly innocent. Social engineering’s popularity is at least in part spurred by the fact that what operating system and Web browser rests on a user’s computer is largely irrelevant, as it is the actual user being targeted, not necessarily vulnerabilities on the machine. Social engineering is already one of the primary attack vectors being used today, and Symantec estimates that the number of attempted attacks using social engineering techniques is sure to increase in 2010.

Rogue Security Software Vendors Escalate Their Efforts – In 2010, expect to see the propagators of rogue security software scams take their efforts to the next level, even by hijacking users’ computers, rendering them useless and holding them for ransom. A less drastic next step, however, would be software that is not explicitly malicious, but dubious at best. For example, Symantec has already observed some rogue antivirus vendors selling rebranded copies of free third-party antivirus software as their own offerings. In these cases, users are technically getting the antivirus software that they pay for, but the reality is that this same software can actually be downloaded for free elsewhere.

Social Networking Third-Party Applications Will be the Target of Fraud – With the popularity of social networking sites poised for another year of unprecedented growth, expect to see fraud being leveraged against site users to grow. In the same vein, expect owners of these sites to create more proactive measures to address these threats. As this occurs, and as these sites more readily provide third-party developer access to their APIs, attackers will likely turn to vulnerabilities in third-party applications for users’ social networking accounts, just as we have seen attackers leverage browser plug-ins more as Web browsers themselves become more secure.

Windows 7 Will Come into the Cross-Hairs of Attackers – Microsoft has already released the first security patches for the new operating system. As long as humans are programming computer code, flaws will be introduced, no matter how thorough pre-release testing is, and the more complex the code, the more likely that undiscovered vulnerabilities exist. Microsoft’s new operating system is no exception, and as Windows 7 hits the pavement and gains traction in 2010, attackers will undoubtedly find ways to exploit its users.

Fast Flux Botnets Increase – Fast flux is a technique used by some botnets, such as the Storm botnet, to hide phishing and malicious Web sites behind an ever-changing network of compromised hosts acting as proxies. Using a combination of peer-to-peer networking, distributed command and control, web-based load balancing and proxy redirection, it makes it difficult to trace the botnets’ original geo-location. As industry counter measures continue to reduce the effectiveness of traditional botnets, expect to see more using this technique being used to carry out attacks.

URL Shortening Services Become the Phisher’s Best Friend – Because users often have no idea where a shortened URL is actually sending them, phishers are able to disguise links that the average security conscious user might think twice about clicking on. Symantec is already seeing a trend toward using this tactic to distribute misleading applications and we expect much more to come. Also, in an attempt to evade antispam filters through obfuscation, expect spammers to leverage shortened URLs shorteners to carry out their own evil deeds.

Mac and Mobile Malware Will Increase – The number of attacks designed to exploit a certain operating system or platform is directly related to that platform’s market share, as malware authors are out to make money and always want the biggest bang for their buck. In 2009, we saw Macs and smartphones targeted more by malware authors, for example the Sexy Space botnet aimed at the Symbian mobile device operating system and the OSX.Iservice Trojan targeting Mac users. As Mac and smartphones continue to increase in popularity in 2010, more attackers will devote time to creating malware to exploit these devices.

Spammers Breaking the Rules – As the economy continues to suffer and more people seek to take advantage of the loose restrictions of the CAN SPAM Act, we’ll see more organizations selling unauthorized e-mail address lists and more less-than-legitimate marketers spamming those lists.

As Spammers Adapt, Spam Volumes Will Continue to Fluctuate – Since 2007, spam has increased on average by 15 percent. While this significant growth in spam e-mail may not be sustainable in the long term, it is clear that spammers are not yet willing to give up as long an economic motive is present. Spam volumes will continue to fluctuate in 2010 as spammers continue to adapt to the sophistication of security software, the intervention of responsible ISPs and government agencies across the globe.

Specialized Malware – Highly specialized malware was uncovered in 2009 that was aimed at exploiting certain ATMs, indicating a degree of insider knowledge about their operation and how they could be exploited. Expect this trend to continue in 2010, including the possibility of malware targeting electronic voting systems, both those used in political elections and public telephone voting, such as that connected with reality television shows and competitions.

CAPTCHA Technology Will Improve – As this happens and spammers have a more difficult time breaking CAPTCHA codes through automated processes, spammers in emerging economies will devise a means to use real people to manually generate new accounts for spamming, thereby attempting to bypass the improved technology. Symantec estimates that the individuals employed to manually create these accounts will be paid less than 10 percent of the cost to the spammers, with the account-farmers charging $30-40 per 1,000 accounts.

Instant Messaging Spam – As cybercriminals exploit new ways to bypass CAPTCHA technologies, instant messenger (IM) attacks will grow in popularity. IM threats will largely be comprised of unsolicited spam messages containing malicious links, especially attacks aimed at compromising legitimate IM accounts. By the end of 2010, Symantec predicts that one in 300 IM messages will contain a URL. Also, in 2010, Symantec predicts that overall, one in 12 hyperlinks will be linked to a domain known to be used for hosting malware. Thus, one in 12 hyperlinks appearing in IM messages will contain a domain that has been considered suspicious or malicious. In mid 2009, that level was 1 in 78 hyperlinks.

Non-English Spam Will Increase – As broadband connection penetration continues to grow across the globe, particularly in developing economies, spam in non-English speaking countries will increase. In some parts of Europe, Symantec estimates the levels of localized spam will exceed 50 percent of all spam.

Be kind to your friends, relatives, and associates, particularly new Internet users, and let them know that these types of Internet dangers are now epidemic on the Internet. Take on the task of educating these people – it raises the level of protection for all of us.

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Filed under Don't Get Scammed, Don't Get Hacked, Interconnectivity, Internet Security Alerts, Malware Advisories, Malware Reports, MessageLabs, Spyware - Adware Protection, Symantec, Windows Tips and Tools