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Spam showers with squalls of exploits predicted

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Security events recorded between July and September this year are up 150 per cent on those recorded by security company VeriSign in the same period last year.

VeriSign's Internet Security Intelligence Briefing, published today, concludes that increased financial rewards and the greater sophistication of the computer underworld and making the internet a more dangerous environment. In particular the firm warns on the growth of hybrid attacks - such as computer worms that use a variety of techniques in attempts to compromise user systems or attacks that use system exploits in order to steal sensitive information through secondary assaults.

On the other hand, VeriSign also reports that security incidents in Q3 2004 are down on those recorded in the first two quarters of this year - so it's not all bad.

VeriSign's figures come via its security monitoring services business. This division handles more than 250 million daily security events from firewall, Intrusion Detection Systems (IDS), Intrusion Prevention Systems (IPS), Virtual Private Networks (VPN) and endpoint systems on behalf of VeriSign's various clients.

Spam tsunami, phishing flood

VeriSign's Payment Services currently process more than 35 per cent of North American ecommerce transaction. From this data, VeriSign estimates ecommerce spending in Q3 2004 is up 25 per cent from Q3 2003. The volume of SSL certs in use increased 19 per cent over the same period.

According to VeriSign, fraud losses grew faster than could be explained by the growth in ecommerce alone. The US topped the ranking for countries with the highest volume of fraudulent transactions in Q3 2004, followed by Vietnam and Indonesia. The UK came fourth in this roll-call of shame. VeriSign doesn't quote raw figures on financial losses in making this comparison.

Spam is a major enabler for the rise in cybercrime, according to VeriSign. "Spam continues to be the primary vector for internet crimes, including advance fee fraud, phishing ploys and work-at-home carding schemes. Networks of captured machines or "botnets" are now routinely used to deliver spam, which can help seed virus distributions and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks," it notes. "During the past 12 months, Internet crime has become more organized and directed toward achieving financial reward. Spam solicitations have become increasingly aggressive to combat more effective filtering solutions that limit the number of victims they can reach." ®

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