Feeds

Security threats soar in 2005

Malchicks beget malware

Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable

Nearly 16,000 new viruses, worms and Trojans have appeared in 2005, but criminals are moving their focus to niche targeted groups with specially customised malware to steal data and cash.

The huge increase in the number of malware programs stems from the activities of criminal gangs intent on using trojans, worms and viruses to make a profit, according to a new report from anti-virus software firm Sophos, entitled the Security Threat Management Report 2005.

These gangs have been focusing their efforts on a smaller number of victims, who are targeted with customised malware, so that the creators of the virus can evade the attentions of anti-virus software vendors and security providers.

"Internet criminals may be turning their back on large scale attacks not only because they do not wish to draw attention to their efforts, but also because they cannot practically handle the amount of stolen data they might receive if they infected hundreds of thousands of computers in one day," the report noted.

A report published in November 2005 by Financial Insights, an IDC company, estimated that global financial institutions lost USD400 million in 2004 due to phishing schemes. Phishing is a system whereby scammers send an email, purporting to be from their financial institution, which induces them to reveal their online banking details.

Instead of going for the large financial institutions, cyber criminals are now engaging in what has been dubbed "puddle phishing", where they target a smaller financial institution that may only have a few branches.

Another phishing phenomenon is the "spear phishing" practice, where attackers will target employees in a specific company in an attempt to gain passwords and usernames to access confidential data.

Because these attacks are so targeted, the most dangerous viruses are unlikely to be included among the top-10 most common viruses, which anti-virus vendors issue to raise security awareness among internet users.

While all of the top ten threats are Windows-based worms, the number of Trojan horses written during 2005 outweighs worms by a ratio of two-to-one.

In 2005, the Zafi-D virus has topped the Sophos list as the most prevalent virus on the internet. The most prevalent virus in 2004, Netsky-P, has dropped to second place this year. Sober-Z - which was only unleashed in November 2005 - has already climbed to third place as it continues to disrupt and clog networks worldwide.

The other viruses in the top 10 were Sober-N, Zafi-B, Mytob-BE, Mytob-AS, Netsky-D, Mytob-GH, Mytob-EP.

Copyright © 2005, ENN

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

More from The Register

next story
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
Roll out the welcome mat to hackers and crackers
Security chap pens guide to bug bounty programs that won't fail like Yahoo!'s
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
Researcher sat on critical IE bugs for THREE YEARS
VUPEN waited for Pwn2Own cash while IE's sandbox leaked
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Prevent sensitive data leakage over insecure channels or stolen mobile devices.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
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.