The security industry expects the number of cyber-espionage attacks to increase in 2012 and the malware used for this purpose to become increasingly sophisticated.
In the past two years there has been a surge in the number of malware-based attacks that resulted in sensitive data being stolen from government agencies, defense contractors, Fortune 500 companies, human rights organizations and other institutions. (See also "How to Remove Malware From Your Windows PC.")
"I absolutely expect this trend to continue through 2012 and beyond," said Rik Ferguson, director of security research and communication at security firm Trend Micro. "Espionage activities have, for hundreds of years, taken advantage of cutting-edge technologies to carry out covert operations; 2011 was not the beginning of Internet-facilitated espionage, nor will it be the end," he added.
Threats like Stuxnet, which is credited with setting back Iran's nuclear program by several years, or its successor, Duqu, have shocked the security industry with their level of sophistication. Experts believe that they are only the beginning and that more highly advanced malware will be launched in 2012.