Feeds

Anti-spam success drives malware authors downmarket

Spam to scam scramble

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

Using blade systems to cut costs and sharpen efficiencies

Crooks are turning to spyware scams because it's getting harder to make money from spam, according to a leading UK anti-virus expert. "Spam is less effective because of improved anti-spam filters, so crooks are looking at phishing, ID theft, and stealing information on demand to make money," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos.

Two weeks ago a UK government agency issued an unprecedented security warning that British firms were being targeted in a series of specially crafted Trojan horse attacks, many reportedly originating from the Far East. The UK's National Infrastructure Security Co-ordination Centre (NISCC) warned the goal of this cyber-blitz was the "covert gathering or transmitting of commercially or economically valuable information".

Anti-virus experts speaking during a Digital mafia roundtable discussion in London on Thursday agreed that the face of malware threats was changing. Patrik Runald, senior technical consultant at F-Secure, said the number of malware outbreaks is down as virus writers are moving away from large-scale attacks that draw attention to themselves towards targeted attacks.

Simon Perry, CA's VP of security strategy in EMEA, added that digital attacks fell into three categories: volume attacks against consumers (e.g. spam), assaults against electronic storefronts and industrial espionage attacks. Although experts on the panel agreed that the malware threat was changing and becoming more closely linked to criminal gangs, they were split on whether "old school virus writers had fallen in with a bad crowd" or a different group of people had gotten into the creation of malicious code.

Pete Simpson, ThreatLab Manager at security firm CLEARSWIFT, said ISPs were key in the fight to contain malicious code, but end users (for easily falling for social engineering tricks), software vendors and universities also came in for criticism. CA's Perry cited a case of software developers graduating from a unnamed university having studied secure coding techniques for just two days during a three-year course. Security holes in applications make up an increasing category of threats so greater attention ought to be paid to education the next generation of developers about best practices, he argued. ®

Related stories

Spyware blizzard shows no sign of let up
UK trojan siege has been running over a year
UK under cyber blitz

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
NEW, SINISTER web tracking tech fingerprints your computer by making it draw
Have you been on YouPorn lately, perhaps? White House website?
HIDDEN packet sniffer spy tech in MILLIONS of iPhones, iPads – expert
Don't panic though – Apple's backdoor is not wide open to all, guru tells us
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Black Hat anti-Tor talk smashed by lawyers' wrecking ball
Unmasking hidden users is too hot for Carnegie-Mellon
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Own a Cisco modem or wireless gateway? It might be owned by someone else, too
Remote code exec in HTTP server hands kit to bad guys
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.