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Pirate Bay clampdown prompted file sharing site spike

A true 'cloud computing' effort, reports McAfee

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Attempts to shut down notorious torrent tracker site The Pirate Bay have spurred a four-fold increase in the number of file sharing websites during the third quarter of 2009.

At least some of these sites are primarily designed to distribute scareware and other types of malware rather than pirated content.

Net security firm McAfee reports that a 300 per cent increase in file sharing sites that offer music and films has been accompanied by a sharp increase in associated malware-themed scams. Some of the newly created sites are littered with ruses designed to trick users into downloading various strains of malware.

Filesharing fans began creating their own sites in support of The Pirate Bay community when the site came under legal attack in Sweden during August, leaving it temporarily unavailable, McAfee explains.

In the days prior to the shutdown anonymizers indexed and relayed the data to users who might be blocked. Open-source code was available to anyone who wanted to help with redistribution of the bit torrents. This was a true "cloud computing" effort, as the masses stepped up to make this database of torrents (legal, infringed, and malicious) available to others.

When the site returned, these new torrent sites dropped off the net, taking the number of file sharing sites to pre-Pirate Bay takedown levels. McAfee reckons the number of file sharing sites will again increase during the Christmas holiday, based on earlier spikes in the creation of new sites that have accompanied the release of summer blockbusters and around the time of the Oscar awards.

During the third calendar quarter of 2009, McAfee researchers recorded a significant rise in denial-of-service attacks, including some that demanded ransom pay-offs. Four Australian sports betting firms (Sportingbet Australia, Sportsbet, Sports Alive, and Betchoice) were reportedly taken offline during major sporting events such as Australian Football League and National Rugby League finals.

Cybercrooks are offering to demo DDoS attacks to prospective buyers of site takedowns for hire services, which are growing increasingly sophisticated, McAfee adds. The latest edition of McAfee's quarterly threats report also found that spam hit 92 per cent of all email, a record high. Both the spam and DDoS attack traffic largely comes from botnet networks of compromised PCs. McAfee said it recorded the creation of 13 million new zombies in Q3 2009.

McAfee's latest security threat report, which explains these various developments in the cybercrime landscape in greater depth, can be found here (PDF). ®

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