Online crime could become more direct and aggressive in the coming months, according to Trend Micro.
In its annual Future Threat Report, the security firm suggested that an increasingly crowded underground market could push cybercriminals to adopt new and more aggressive tactics.
Specifically, Trend suggested that bank accounts themselves will be increasingly targeted. Rather than steal payment information or password data, malware writers could look to directly access bank accounts and transfer the funds to third parties.
The company said that the push is mainly due to increased competition among cybercriminals. Because entering the malware business requires very little money and because malware writers are becoming increasingly efficient, Trend sees the pool of potential players in the cybercrime arena growing.
"Much like legitimate businesses, as more players come into the game, profit margins will inevitably shrink," the company said.
"This may inspire mergers and takeovers among different cybercriminal players. Likewise, this will force some pioneering cybercriminals to formulate better and faster ways to turn stolen information into cash or to go directly after cash."
The company also predicted that botnet activity will become more aggressive.
Trend suggested that rather than maintain large botnets for use in DDoS attacks or spamming runs, operators will instead solicit access to the infected machines individually and seek to reap payment for installing malware on the compromised systems.
Social networking and online communities are another area where Trend sees the potential for growth in criminal activity.
The company suggested that the inherent trust users have for many of the networking services and the information displayed on them could be a gold mine for social engineering attacks, which trick the user into willingly handing over information or installing malware.