I have been following a number of attacker trends and I see a potential point of convergence just over the horizon.
Most especially, I think that an intersection is likely to occur between bot development/virtual machines/rootkits and man-in-the-browser. My guess is that a hybrid juggernaut of these technologies is likely to emerge as an eventual all-in-one attack platform.
The use of these technologies alone are already present in many attack platforms. There are already a ton of examples of bot/rootkit integration. We know that man-in-the-browser has already been combined with rootkit technologies to make it more insidious and more powerful. If we add things like installation of illicit virtual machines, evil hypervisors and other emerging threats to the mix, the outcome is a pretty interesting crime/cyber-war tool.
If all of these problems would come together and get united into a super tool, many organizations would quickly learn that their existing defenses and detection mechanisms are not up to the challenge. Rootkit detection, egress traffic analysis, honeypot deployments and a high level of awareness are just beginning to be adopted in many organizations whose infosec teams lack the budgets, maturity and technical skills needed to get beyond the reactive patch/scan/patch cycle.
Vendors are already picking up on these new hybrid threats, much like they did with worms – by offering their products wrapped with new marketing buzzwords and hype. We have heard everything from IPS to NAC and hardened browsers (that mysteriously resemble Lynx) to special network crypto widgets that provide mysterious checksums of web transactions with other users of the special widgets… I don’t think any of these thigs are going to really solve the problems that are coming, though some might be interesting as point solutions or defense in depth components. My guess is that more than a few of the currently hyped vendor solutions are likely to be practically useless in the near future.
The real problem is this – security team maturity needs to be quickly addressed. Attackers are nearing another evolutionary leap in their capabilities (just as worms were a leap, bots were a leap, etc…) and we are still having issues dealing with the current levels of threats. It is becoming increasingly clear that we need to have infosec folks start to think differently about the problems, learn more about their adversaries and embrace a new pragmatic approach to defending data, systems and networks.
Maybe we need less whiz bang technology and more Sun Tzu?