McAfee's 2011 Cyber Attack Targets: URL Shorteners, iPhones, Geolocation Services

Intel acquired McAfee has just released its forecast for the top targets for cyber criminals in 2011, and a number of popular platforms have made the list. The antivirus and security software company’s labs group, McAfee Labs, says that Google’s Android, Apple’s iPhone, Foursquare, Google TV and the Mac OS X platform, are all expected to be targets in the New Year.

McAfee Labs says that URL-shortening services, which create more than 3,000 URLs per minute, will be a significant target for cyber criminals in 2011. Because social media sites are already riddles with cyber criminals, these links are going to be used for spam, scamming and other malicious purposes, says the company. Interestingly, McAfee recently launched its own URL shortener,

Geolocation services, such as Foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook Places, are expected to also be a security target as cybercriminals can see in real time who is Tweeting, where they are located, what they are saying, what their interests are, and what operating systems and applications they are using. McAfee says this personal information that is publicly shared allows cyber criminals to create a targeted attack.

Of course unsurprisingly, mobile is expected to a huge target in 2011 as more consumers and businesses use smartphones. McAfee says that this increase in usage, combined with “historically fragile cellular infrastructure and slow strides toward encryption,” will put user data on mobile phones at high risk for an attack.

Apple is another target that McAfee named for its list. The Mac OS platform has been known for warding off cyber criminals but the McAfee Labs warns that Mac-targeted malware will continue to increase in sophistication in 2011. And as iPads and iPhones populate businesses, there is the risk for data and identity exposure.

Web-connected TV platforms such as Google TV, will also be a target for suspicious and malicious apps says McAfee. The company says that these apps will target or expose privacy and identity data, and will allow cybercriminals to manipulate a variety of physical devices through compromised or controlled apps.

With the dawn of controversial site Wikileaks, McAfee says that next year will also bring more politically motivated attacks to the web. McAfee Labs says that “hacktivism” will become the a new form of political demonstration.