Feeds

Unsung software developers behind rise in online fraud

Tool kits spark explosion in malicious code base, says Symantec

The Essential Guide to IT Transformation

MPack is a menu-driven platform that makes it easy to infect vulnerable websites. Once they are compromised, the websites then exploit any one of several unpatched vulnerabilities in software used by people visiting those sites. End user machines that are pwned in turn generate spam designed to lure more visitors to those sites.

The technique unleashed a synergy that didn't exist with exploits of a few years ago. The notorious Code Red, for example, attacked a single service running in Microsoft Windows, then simply moved on in search of other vulnerable systems.

Of course, MPack is by no means the only malware tool kit available, and use of such tool kits are by no means limited to the past nine months. But the Symantec report suggests they are playing a bigger role in just about every aspect of online fraud. For instance, just three toolkits were responsible for 42 per cent of all phishing attacks observed by Symantec in the first half of the year.

"The degrees to which these applications are supported and the caliber of the applications certainly leads us to believe there is a concerted team behind the development of these tools that are running [software development] as a business," Friedrichs said.

Among other findings in the report:

The United States continues to be the epicenter for much of fraud happening online. It was the top location for servers hosting underground forums, where stolen credit cards of other types of accounts are sold. Eighty-five percent of credit cards sold in forums were issued by US banks. The US was home to 59 per cent of the servers hosting phishing sites and was the point of origin for 47 per cent of the world's spam. Ten percent of spam zombies were located in the US, higher than any other country.

China had 29 per cent of the word's bot-infected computers, the highest of any country. Beijing alone accounted for seven per cent of the world-wide total.

Symantec documented 39 vulnerabilities in the Internet Explorer browser, down from 54 in the second half of 2006. Vulnerabilities in Mozilla-related browsers dropped to 34, from a previous total of 40. Meanwhile, vulnerabilities in Apple's Safari browser sky-rocketed to 25, more than five times as many documented last period. Opera had seven, up from four. ®

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
14 antivirus apps found to have security problems
Vendors just don't care, says researcher, after finding basic boo-boos in security software
'Things' on the Internet-of-things have 25 vulnerabilities apiece
Leaking sprinklers, overheated thermostats and picked locks all online
Only '3% of web servers in top corps' fully fixed after Heartbleed snafu
Just slapping a patched OpenSSL on a machine ain't going to cut it, we're told
iWallet: No BONKING PLEASE, we're Apple
BLE-ding iPhones, not NFC bonkers, will drive trend - marketeers
How long is too long to wait for a security fix?
Synology finally patches OpenSSL bugs in Trevor's NAS
Secure microkernel that uses maths to be 'bug free' goes open source
Hacker-repelling, drone-protecting code will soon be yours to tweak as you see fit
Israel's Iron Dome missile tech stolen by Chinese hackers
Corporate raiders Comment Crew fingered for attacks
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
prev story

Whitepapers

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.
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.
Backing up Big Data
Solving backup challenges and “protect everything from everywhere,” as we move into the era of big data management and the adoption of BYOD.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Why and how to choose the right cloud vendor
The benefits of cloud-based storage in your processes. Eliminate onsite, disk-based backup and archiving in favor of cloud-based data protection.