Hosted in China: Malware-Infested Web Sites - Changing Threats
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Not al the news in the August report from Sophos was bad. With fewer people actually opening email attachments from unsolicited messages, spammers are adapting their techniques. Sophos found just one in 1,000 emails included an infected attachment in August, as compared to one in 322 during the first six months of 2007 and a ridiculously high one in 47 last year.
O'Brien is pleased to see that educating users about the perils of opening attachments in unsolicited email is beginning to bear fruit. "we can see that reflected in the behavior of criminals trying to get to the end user. We're not clicking on attachments. We're learning not to expect greeting cards from friends and relatives unless we're having a birthday," he explained, alluding to the subject line of one of the more common malware scams. "It's all a matter of conditioning."
The good news stands in contrast to the infection rates Sophos has been seeing for web pages. On average, 5,000 web pages became newly infected every day in August. That's pretty bad, though it is down from the 6,000 newly infected web pages every day that the company saw the previous month. And while spam messages that contained infected attachments went down, spam containing links to infected sites went way up. For the victims, it's simply a matter of clicking on the link to visit the web site; once you arrive, your computer is infected. Indeed, spam hosted on Chinese domains rose enormously, from almost no domains in June to 450 spam domains in August.
This news is consistent with predictions from online security firm Trend Micro. Back in July, the company predicted that the web would overtake email as the source of attacks on computers. That shift is expected to happen some time in the next year. At the rate things are going, we could see it happen early in 2008 rather than later. To give you another idea of how fast the threat is growing, in an interview in July, Trend Micro chief technology officer Raimund Genes noted that "There is an increase in Web threats compared with normal worms...the number of worms has increased by 22 percent since first-quarter 2005, while Web threats have increased by 540 percent."
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