Malware Threats Are Becoming Increasingly Common and Diversified

by Christopher on April 19, 2011

Malware threats, a leading concern in the internet security industry, are on the rise. To make matters worse, the types of malware infecting home and business computers are evolving, as are the methods by which they are transmitted. According to web security company Kaspersky Lab, the count of recorded malware incidents hit a new record at 1.5 billion in 2010. About one-third of these occurred via browser attacks, while others came through email spam, network attacks, and software vulnerabilities.

Peer-to-peer networks have become a notable source of malware transmission. In fact, Kaspersky Lab identifies them as the second-most common source of malware infections, following only browser attacks. The threats coming from this arena are diverse and include Trojans and file viruses, worms, rogue AVs, and backdoors. Internet security firm Cisco recently pointed out that malware attacks on the three leading P-2-P networks, eDonkey, BitTorrent, and Gnutella, were increasing significantly.

Kaspersky Lab realized the P-2-P malware threats were becoming an epidemic when recorded incidents hit 2.5 million in March of 2010. By year’s end, the number of monthly attacks reached 3.2 million. It’s worth noting, however, that these numbers aren’t inclusive of Trojans and file viruses, putting the estimate for the actual number of P-2-P-based malware incidents up to 10 million per month. Kaspersky Lab points to Internet Explorer as particularly vulnerable, as well as programs that operate in conjunction with browsers, such as Adobe Reader and Flash Player.

As for the number one source of malware threats today–attacks via internet browsers–Kaspersky Lab recorded more than 580 million incidents in 2010. This was an astonishing leap from 2009 numbers, when there were 73.6 million such attacks. Considering there were only 23.6 million malware attacks via browsers in 2007, an alarming trend has certainly been established.

Moreover, spammers and scammers are currently making ample use of social networking sites, particularly Facebook and Twitter, and fraudulent partner programs to spread a variety of malware threats. Notorious botnets, including Koobface, Bredolab, ZeuS, Mariposa, Sinowal, TDSS, and Black Energy 2.0 launched malware attack after attack, spreading worms to millions of computers each time. Some of these botnets were first to infect 64-bit platforms with malware. This was often accomplished by taking advantage of zero-day vulnerabilities, or weaknesses in new software that have not yet been discovered by programmers.

While these are some of the more noteworthy malware threats in the internet security landscape today, cyber criminals and spammers are constantly finding new avenues to infect computers across the globe. The rising trend in spreading malware to cell phones and PDAs is also alarming. Androids and iPhones have proven vulnerable to malware and spyware infections lately. The ever-changing nature of malware threats, combined with the perpetually increasing ways in which they can be propagated, necessitate the most current virus protection and spam filtering.

Posted in: Malware

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