Feeds

Stealth techniques push malware under the radar

Roots you, sir

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

Increased use of stealth techniques such as rootkits is leading to fewer reports of new viruses, according to a study by net security outfit VeriSign iDefense.

Since 2003, VeriSign iDefense has been collecting and recording information on every uniquely identifiable malicious code, using public and private resources. Discovery of malicious codes was steadily growing between 2003 and 2005, but from January to June 2006 VeriSign iDefense noticed a significant downward trend each month.

Its conclusions are markedly different from those of anti-virus vendors, who report a decrease in mass-mailing worms but an increase in more targeted attacks.

VeriSign iDefense has a number of theories about why it is seeing fewer examples of malware doing the rounds. For one, anti-virus programs may be improperly detecting polymorphic codes as older variants or code families. Then again, malware authors might be turning to phishing and pharming attacks as a means to rack in illicit funds. As such attacks grow in popularity, the theory goes, they might start to replace malicious codes as a means to gain personal information for financial gain.

While it's true that phishing attacks are gaining in sophistication, VeriSign iDefense neglects to mention that key-logging Trojans are one of the most effective means to gain secret account information.

However, the company believes the most significant factor in the decrease of malware it reports is the increased use of rootkit techniques. Rootkits, designed to push malware "under the radar", are increasingly foiling anti-virus programs and other security techniques, it says.

VeriSign iDefense reckons the number of malicious codes installed today is still significant, but simply not being detected.

Senior malicious code analyst Frederick Doyle said: "Levels of spamming continue to be a good indicator of malicious code use, as those techniques are generally used by the same types of hackers. As the public improves in its defences against spamming, malicious code users are increasingly turning to different means of attack." ®

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
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
Mozilla fixes CRITICAL security holes in Firefox, urges v31 upgrade
Misc memory hazards 'could be exploited' - and guess what, one's a Javascript vuln
BMW's ConnectedDrive falls over, bosses blame upgrade snafu
Traffic flows up 20% as motorway middle lanes miraculously unclog
LibreSSL RNG bug fix: What's all the forking fuss about, ask devs
Blow to bit-spitter 'tis but a flesh wound, claim team
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
Yorkshire cops fail to grasp principle behind BT Fon Wi-Fi network
'Prevent people that are passing by to hook up to your network', pleads plod
Don't look, Snowden: Security biz chases Tails with zero-day flaws alert
Exodus vows not to sell secrets of whistleblower's favorite OS
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.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
The Essential Guide to IT Transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIO's automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise.