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Scammers Go Mobile. Read All About It.

Sorry, I couldn’t resist the New York Post headline.

We’re at a very exciting time in our industry. There is a shift underway to mobile devices and cloud computing, both of which have exciting ramifications for unleashing a new wave of productivity in the enterprise. But don’t think that scammers aren’t benefiting off this wave as well. They are also enjoying an increase in productivity.

For the past decade, we’ve seen threats targeting the desktop, in particular Windows PCs. And, we’ve gotten pretty good at stopping it. But now, as we look to new devices and platforms, so too do the bad guys. While Apple’s iOS and Mac OS, and the Google Android have been largely ignored, that’s beginning to change as the desktop has become less vulnerable (due to significant investments to make it so), and because new platforms are damn attractive as users are going mobile at unprecedented rates. The result of these trends: a growing number of attacks aimed specifically at the mobile devices we love in our personal lives, and which have recently infiltrated the enterprise. (Yes, my job has become much harder, but I also believe by re-imagining security we have the solutions. And, by entirely re-thinking security, I think we can permeate security throughout a borderless world.)

We’ve just released Cisco’s 2010 Annual Security Report, which discusses the impacts of the trends underway—social media, cloud computing, spam and global cybercrime—and its impact on network security. In case you don’t actually read the report, here are a few Cliff’s Notes:

- Spam is down—2010 actually marked the first year of this—and we’re psyched that the decrease in some countries (like Turkey) is due to some high profile smackdowns and ISPs restricting malicious email, and authorities taking the problem more seriously. But don’t get too excited; we did see an increase in spam in developed countries including France, Germany and the United Kingdom. (In the UK, spam volume rose almost 99 percent from 2009 to 2010.)

- We’re seeing an increase in money muling—people recruited to set up bank accounts, to help scammers “cash out” or launder money. These operations are becoming more elaborate and international in scope.

- What we expect in terms of threats in 2011: Theft Trojans such as Zeus, easy-to-deploy web exploits and money mules will continue to rise, while social networking scams will not be as significant threat.

The report is like our State of the Union, it tells us where we are—and it demonstrates where we need to go. It makes our need for a new security architecture very clear. And, I think it will make scammers a whole lot less productive.

Check out the Cisco Annual Security Report Press Release.

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