Rising Malware Threats reported by AVG and F-Secure

Dennis Faas's picture

Malware was on the rise last year, and 2009 doesn't look much better. Reports from two different security companies, AVG and F-secure, are painting an increasingly dangerous picture of our online world.

F-secure, makers of real-time virus protection software, reports that detections of malware have tripled since 2007.

Topping their list were botnets -- a network of infected computers, sometimes called zombies -- which can be remotely controlled by hackers without the knowledge of the computer's owner. There is no hard data on how many zombified computers are out there, but by F-secure's estimation the number could be as high as 12 million computers worldwide. (Source: f-secure.com)

The other two biggest security threats, according to F-secure, are scareware attacks and SQL injection attacks. Scareware is something you've probably seen before. A pop-up window warns you that your computer has been infected and you need to download "X" security software to fix it. You are then directed to a website to buy bogus software to fix the problem. SQL attacks, on the other hand, are far more insidious. These are programs that run a script, which automatically redirects you to another website where malicious software tries to infect your computer.

The problem with all these attacks, says AVG, is that malicious websites are often up for less than a day. The company says that as many as 300,000 sites a day are created with the explicit intention of harming your computer.

In addition to SQL attacks, hackers also use what the company calls 'malverts'--malicious code embedded in banner ads. These banner ads can either redirect you to a more malicious website or even infect your computer just by viewing the ad! Called drive-by downloads or transient threats, these codes can hop onto your computer and mine your data for credit card numbers, passwords and other sensitive information. (Source: avg.com)

In addition to these threats, there are also fake codec attacks where users are tricked into downloading fake video software. According to AVG, transient threats and fake codecs are especially prevalent on social networks where you are more likely to be trusting of links to outside sites.

How to Cope with Online Threats

So how do you stay safe in an environment like this? The best approach is to make sure that in addition to anti-virus your security product offers real-time monitoring to make sure websites you're visiting are behaving normally, and never ever download something from a site you don't trust.

It's also worth noting that infopackets has a report on PC Security called Top 10 PC Security Essentials, and you can download it free from our website.


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