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Cyber terrorist activity and fresh delivery techniques for the transmission of mutated viruses will menace corporate and government security this year, according to a study by network infrastructure consulting firm Predictive Systems.

Among the trends forecast by Predictive, whose clients include Bear Stearns, Cisco Systems, and WorldCom, include security vulnerabilities in wireless devices, such as viruses on Palm Pilots. Virus writers might also turn to the wider use of MP3 files in order to spread malicious code.

More controversially the firm predicts that ex-crackers will attain more senior levels of responsibility in business and government, and this will increase the overall seriousness of threats to security from inside organisations.

Richard Stagg, senior security architect at Information Risk Management, agreed with Predictive's overall conclusions but said firms bringing in ex-hackers to help them with their security are not exposing themselves to risk.

"Many firms are bringing in ex-hackers or ex-crackers and there is no link to increased security risks because of this. In fact firms will probably see a decreased security risk because they are employing people who know what they are talking about," said Stagg.

Predictive also has plenty to say about cyberterrorism and hactivist activity, which it argues has so far had minimal impact due to lack of organisation of and technology available to would-be cyber-criminals. This, it predicts, will change in 2001 resulting in well resourced attacks that are likely to be directed against either major US corporations or financial institutions.

"With the increasing influence of more technically sophisticated members, better organisation, more charismatic leadership, and the ability to launch an attack from a well-infrastructured location, a significantly destructive cyber-terrorist or hactivist event is nearly inevitable," according to Predictive.

Terry Gudaitis, a cybercrime profiler for Predictive Systems, said: "Cyber-criminals will continue to take advantage of all the new technologies and methods available to them - the trick is to understand how, why, where, and when they will choose to launch an attack." ®

Related stories:
Virus writers and cracker love-in
First Palm virus isolated
Communists, Blofeld et al plan cyber Pearl Harbor for US
Clinton Admin goes out in a blaze of cyber-terror
Hacker meltdown fails to materialise

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