"If you compromise a computer, the victim can always switch to a clean machine and your attack is over," said Professor Wenke Lee. "If you compromise a user's search history and hence his online profile, the victim gets the malicious search results no matter where he logs in from."
Perhaps unsurprisingly, mobility was also highlighted as an area for concern, although the threats are not as serious as some have claimed. The app store model through which most mobile software is distributed provides a relatively stalwart first line of defense against a lot of smartphone-based malware, though the researchers added that a more aggressive patching policy from OEMs and carriers would help.
The director of the Georgia Tech Research Institute's Cyber Technology and Information Security Laboratory, Bo Rotoloni, said these problems demand responses on several fronts.
"Our best defense on the growing cyber warfront is found in cooperative education and awareness, best-of-breed tools and robust policy developed collaboratively by industry, academia and government," he said in a statement accompanying the report.
Read more about wide area network in Network World's Wide Area Network section.