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Forget End-of-Year Predictions… We Have End-of-the-World Predictions!

December 31, 2011

As we officially kickoff “prediction week” – where virtually every security vendor, journalist and pundit gazes into their crystal ball and prognosticates about the next twelve months – we at eIQ have decided to up the proverbial ante.  Our predictions aren’t just about the next year… they’re about the end of the world.

How’s that, you might ask?  Well, it all starts – or rather, ends – with our favorite pre-Columbian civilization, the Mayans.  Ah, the Maya… ask anyone on the street today about them, and the first thing you’re likely to hear about is the Mayan calendar.  Like other Mesoamerican civilizations such as the Aztecs and Inca, the Maya very much believed that time operated in cycles.  The Maya “long count” calendar – the longest individual cycle – is currently scheduled to complete on December 21, 2012.

The Mayans themselves would simply start a new cycle (called b’ak’tun) on December 22; but in our clever world, that’s not good enough for many.  Unfortunately, the end of the “long count” cycle this year has been misinterpreted by some as “the end of the world” – often by people who are looking to make a quick buck.  Rest assured that just as Y2K, the IRS tax deadline of April 15th, and other critical dates have been the focus of phishing and other scam activity in the past, so too will December 21, 2012.

It’s only a matter of time before we start seeing it: “Click here to download the PDF [which is infected] / program [which is trojaned] / website link [which is XSS’d to malware] that shows you why the Mayans were right about the end of the world!”  Like any other scam, these emails and web ads will play to people’s worst fears, and doubtless some of them will succeed in facilitating identity theft, illegal transfer of funds, or even worse.  People are fascinated by doom, and the idea that someone might have “secret knowledge” will cause many unsuspecting people to be drawn into these scams.  We saw this happen endlessly during Y2K, over ten years ago when the term phishing hadn’t even been coined yet.  With the advent of new methods to reach people – no longer just e-mail, but text messages, social media sites, embedded links in documents, and so many more – the amount of fraud that will be perpetrated from end-of-the-world scare tactics will be extreme.

So remember, you heard it here first… and if we’re all still around on December 22, 2012, we’ll see if we at eIQ were right.   🙂

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