McAfee Labs predicts Windows 8 attack threats for 2012

The amount of threats to PCs and mobile devices continues to increase, according to a new paper released today by Intel-owned cyber security company McAfee. The paper, which can be read in full in PDF format, goes over those predictions which include an increase in malware attacks on mobile phones and an increase of rootkits that could affect PC operating systems, including Microsoft's Windows 8.

While the report does give credit to Microsoft for adding a number of security advancements to Windows 8, it adds that hackers who want to go after Windows 8 will develop bootkits and rootkits instead of more traditional attacks on operating systems. It states:

Rootkits are used to subvert both the operating system and security software, while bootkits attack encryption and can replace legitimate boot loaders. These are advanced techniques to intercept encryption keys and passwords, and even subvert driver-signing defenses employed by some OS’s. Attacking hardware and firmware is not easy, but success there would allow attackers to create persistent malware “images” in network cards, hard drives, and even system BIOS. We expect to see more effort put into hardware and firmware exploits and their related real-world attacks throughout 2012 and beyond. Advances in the Windows 8 bootloader security feature have already caused researchers to show how they can be subverted through legacy BIOS; meanwhile, the product has not even been fully released yet.

McAfee's report also goes over a number of other cyber threat predictions, including more attacks on mobile phone devices via malware and rootkits. It states:

In the coming year as developers and researchers develop new methods for rooting phones, we will see malware authors adapting the lessons of PC malware development to undertake attacks that leverage the mobile hardware layer to a greater extent. PC-based malware is increasingly moving further “down” the operating system (OS) to take greater advantage of hardware; we expect mobile malware to follow the same direction.

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