Security researchers are warning that the iPhone may generate a new hacker crime wave, becoming "a primary target for hackers in 2008".

Arbor Networks believes the iPhone will become a major target, subject to a "serious attack" in 2008.

The researchers predict drive by attacks in which malware is embedded into seemingly innocuous data or images designed to attack iPhone via its web browser.

It looks like Apple's battle with iPhone unlockers may generate interest in attacks on the device. Responding to that war, hackers "will be enticed by the possibility of attacking Apple users and the opportunity to 'be the first' to hack a new platform," the researchers said.

The security firm also warns of a rise in 'Chinese on Chinese' cybercrime in the year ahead, noting a dramatic increase in attacks on Chinese language specific software.

This reflects fast-paced increases in Chinese computer users and increasing organisation among China's cyber-criminals.

"2007 was the year of the browser exploit, the data breach, spyware and the storm worm. We expect 2008 to be the year of the iPhone attack, the Chinese Hacker, P2P network spammers and the hijacking of the Storm botnet," Arbor Networks said.

"Online fraud is soaring and security attacks are now being used in countless and ever more sophisticated ways to both steal and launder money. Financial and other confidential data is being obtained, sold and utilised in the highly developed black market. In 2008 this market will continue to grow and it is important that business implement the processes and technology necessary to protect themselves and their customers."