Feeds

Malware goes to the movies

Dangerous liaisons

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

While video files, as entertainment, evoke less suspicion on the part of users, they also have a number of disadvantages.

In the world of data, video files are the lumbering cruise liners, the Titanics. For standard TV quality video, a 30-second clip may only require downloading 2Mb to 3Mb, but a 23 minute TV episode weighs in at a third of a gigabyte, and a full-length movie can easily top a gigabyte. A video of any appreciable length contains enough bits to slow down a home internet connection to a crawl, though more highly compressed video takes up less bandwidth.

The sheer size of such files make them a less appealing target, said OffensiveComputing's Smith.

"I think users are a bit more likely to open a video file but they are also a little harder to transport around because of their size," he said. "Often malware authors want something small."

The cross-platform nature of video files also makes them less appealing, Smith said. An attacker would either have to target an exploit for a single platform or attempt to encode the file in such a way as to work on different systems. In the 40,000 samples of malware that OffensiveComputing has in its database, none use video as an infection vector, he said.

Not only is video harder for an attacker to use, the files are easier for a defender to secure, said Adrian Ludwig, senior manager for secure software engineering at Adobe.

"The threat models for video are far more well understood," Ludwig said. "It is either a good piece of video or it's not."

Run-of-the-mill Flash content, which contains scripting and is event driven, can be far more complex, Ludwig said. Flash-creator Macromedia - and then Adobe, which bought the company in April 2005 - has increasingly focused on the security of the multimedia technology as its popularity grew.

"We have been responding to the issues for many years now, and I think we put out releases as fast as anyone else," Ludwig said.

In the end, while virus writers are currently experimenting with video files, other media files will likely become more popular, said McAfee's Schmugar.

"As more users adopt any technology, that's where there attacker will go," McAfee's Schmugar said. "It is a little early to say it is the beginning of a trend, but it's safe to say that we expect to see continued attention on media files as a vector."

This article originally appeared in Security Focus.

Copyright © 2006, SecurityFocus

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

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
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
Four fake Google haxbots hit YOUR WEBSITE every day
Goog the perfect ruse to slip into SEO orfice
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
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.
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.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.