The horror movie genre has given us some great classics through the years, but for IT managers the real nightmares are the threats they face every day. In the spirit of Halloween, here are five iconic movies whose plot lines might be adapted to strike fear into the heart of today’s tech professionals.

Oh, the horror…

Oh, the horror…

Movie: 28 Days Later

Real Life Horror: State Sponsored Attacks

In the movie, a government-created virus is released into the wild, causing widespread chaos and destruction. This genie-out-of-the bottle plot line is being played out now as a new era of state-sponsored espionage and intellectual property theft has arrived.  A group identifying itself as the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Cyber Fighters is waging an ongoing series of DDOS attacks against major U.S. banking institutions.  The group’s attack has caused major interruptions for targeted systems and reportedly operates under the direction of the Iranian government, although such claims have yet to be confirmed.  Other examples include the recent attack on energy giant Telvent, which fell victim to a sophisticated cyber intrusion and intellectual property theft that was directly related to advanced smart grid technologies.

Movie: Se7en

Real Life Horror: Hacktivism

In Se7en, a psychopath isn’t content with simply murdering his victims. Instead, he uses his savagery to make a point about the way they lived their lives. In the same way, hacktivists commit crimes to expose their victims’ perceived wrongdoing. Hacktivism continues to reach new levels in 2012.  In fact, hacktivists are increasingly posting their intended targets’ identities (often in advance) on open forums, while divulging the spoils of their crime after the fact.  Large corporations and law enforcement agencies have been popular targets recently with the intent to damage reputation or disrupt workflow.  Unfortunately, countless security breaches have been committed, with stolen data of innocent people (i.e., customer account information, usernames, passwords, etc.) often made public to showcase hactivism “success.”

Movie: The Ring

Real Life Horror: Mobile Exploits

The Ring tells the story of a common consumer electronic device (a VHS tape) that brings death to all who watch it. The story plays on our fear that something so familiar could be so destructive. That’s a fitting metaphor for mobile devices that become infected with malware. As more consumers rely on mobile devices to conduct business and banking transactions, Black Hats will increasingly find ways to exploit such devices. In fact, mobile malware is on the rise with no end in sight. Unfortunately, there are entire websites full of rouge apps, many of which are designed to intercept banking credentials and token codes so that theft may occur. Users must also be aware of malicious apps designed around SMS fraud. Such apps send text messages from a victim’s mobile device to numbers that are charged a premium, so make sure to look carefully at your bill each month.

Movie: The Thing

Real Life Horror: New Malware

Who can you trust? That’s the problem faced by a team of scientists in Antarctica in The Thing. An advanced alien organism can imitate each one of them perfectly. When they try to kill it, they discover that each of its parts is a separate organism capable of regenerating. New, more sophisticated malware threats are much the same. To illustrate, a recent cybercrime project recruited 100 botmasters to take part in a series of cyber-attacks against U.S. banks. At the project’s core was a Trojan designed to steal money from banks in an extremely complex and stealth manner.  As technology advances so too will exploit vectors.

 Movie: Species

Real Life Horror: Web-based Threats

A beautiful woman lures unsuspecting males who find out only too late that she’s really a hideous alien. Every day, that same tactic (with many variations) is used by scammers and cyber crooks to get Web users to unknowingly download malicious content. A spike in malware that is hosted and/or distributed via webpages has been driven, in large part, by exploit kits such as Blackhole.  Blackhole has become highly available to those who want to enter the malware distribution market.  It is also highly effective.  Once a website is exploited it becomes the host to malicious JavaScript, which serves as a redirect to cybercriminals’ malware install.  There are a myriad of methods used to drive web users to these infections such as emails with malicious links, SEO based search poisoning, clickjacking and posts on social networks.

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