Cyber criminals to target mobile, social in 2014

Cyber criminals are turning their backs on computers in favor of targeting smartphones and tablets....

Cyber criminals are turning their backs on computers in favor of targeting smartphones and tablets. (Rashevskyi Viacheslav/


, Last Updated: 9:53 AM ET

McAfee Labs predicts that the year ahead will bring increased malware attacks and other cyber risks aimed at smartphones, tablets and social media activity.

The cyber-security firm's 2014 Predictions Report gives consumers an idea of the cyber risks they could be facing as the new year approaches.

In particular, McAfee Labs believes that 2014 will be the year of "mobile malware" as hackers and other cyber criminals start turning their backs on the desktop in favor of smartphones and tablets. McAfee claims that over the past six months it has seen a 33% increase in malware attacks focused on Android and the trend is expected to continue.

The easiest way to stay protected is to only ever download valid apps from Google Play and to use a form of anti virus app. It is also worth considering deactivating a handset's NFC capabilities if it supports the technology and to avoid using public wi-fi for anything other than web browsing.

McAfee also believes that social attacks will be ubiquitous by the end of 2014. Platforms such as Facebook are hugely appealing to cyber criminals because of the wealth of personal information they carry, plus the fact that a number of other services accept Social Media log-in details to sign in to their own offerings.

Facebook already has some of the most robust security in place and offers its one billion users the option of two factor authentication. However, other sites, such as Twitter, have been slower to react to the need for increased online protection and are only now just catching up.

"With target audiences so large, financing mechanisms so convenient, and cyber-talent so accessible, robust innovation in criminal technology and tactics will continue its surge forward in 2014," said Vincent Weafer, senior vice president of McAfee Labs. "The activity in mobile and social is representative of an increasing 'black hat' focus on the fastest growing and most digitally active consumer audiences, in which personal information is almost as attractive as banking passwords."