As cybercriminals changed their focus from traditional Windows systems to other platforms, last year also marked the first in which internet spam volume fell, Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) said in a press release, citing figures from the 2010 edition of its annual security report.
According to the report, cyber attackers have begun to shift their focus away from Windows-based PCs to more mobile platforms such as smartphones and PC tablets.
Cisco said that in response to the last decade's cybercrime, PC platform and application vendors have strengthened their security and used more aggressive methods to reduce vulnerabilities. Because of this, it has become more difficult to exploit these platforms, and criminals now have to look for new places to make money.
According to Cisco's findings, the increasing adoption of mobile devices and applications is another important driver in cyber criminals' shift away from traditional platforms. The company said mobile applications from third parties in particular are emerging as a serious vehicle for cyber threats.
Another key finding from Cisco's security report was the overall drop in the volume of internet spam in 2010. While spam volumes increased in developed countries such as France, Germany and UK, due to continued broadband connection growth, countries such as Brazil, China and Turkey saw their numbers drop in 2010.
Cisco also found that money mule operations - where people are recruited to open bank accounts or use their own to help cyber criminals launder money - are increasing. Security experts expect a major focus of cybercrime in 2011 will be on money mules.