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New Report Shows Malware Increasing and Spam Decreasing
By: wubayou
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    Security firm McAfee has just released its newest Threats Report for the third quarter of 2010. The report discloses a mixed bag when it comes to the status of Internet security, particularly in the area of spam and malware. While spam experienced an overall decline, malware remains as strong as ever, and is increasing in its potency.

    As a whole, spam levels during the third quarter declined both in the United States and across the globe. There were a few exceptions, as Belarus, Greece, Indonesia, and Russia saw increases in spam volume. While the overall drop in spam is good news, the levels of spam are still high, and present various threats to users. Emails and messages containing malicious links, phishing attacks, and attempts at identity theft have continued to maintain a strong presence in the Internet landscape.

    Although the spam statistics detailed in McAfee's report offered some good news, the same does not hold true when it comes to malware. In the first three quarters of 2010, McAfee has diagnosed over 14 million unique strains of malware, which exceeds those found during the first three quarters of 2009 by over one million. When it comes to the average number of new malware detections on a daily basis, 2010 defeats previous years easily. In 2007, approximately 16,000 new pieces of malware were detected on average per day. In 2008 and 2009, that average grew to 29,000 and 46,000, respectively. This year, the average has ballooned to 60,000 new detections per day, which shows that hackers are working harder than ever.

    While the quantity of new threats running rampant is numerous, there were a few that held the third quarter spotlight. McAfee identified the Zeus Trojan as one of the more sophisticated pieces of malware that is currently active. This particular Trojan attempts to spread itself through websites, phishing attacks, or downloads. Those behind the Zeus Trojan use spam email messages that impersonate well-known entities such as the IRS, FedEx, Western Union, the United States Postal Service, and others in an attempt to trick users. In order to bypass anti-spam technologies used by some email services, the Zeus hackers began using graphics in their email messages rather than text to pass detection. Hackers also began targeting mobile devices to intercept validation codes sent for banking transactions.

    The Stuxnet worm was also given a high level of importance in McAfee's Threats Report. The worm was first discovered in July, and was said to possess the power to attack industrial control systems. The Stuxnet worm is extremely sophisticated, which suggests that its creation comes with plenty of financial backing. Due to its potential power, Stuxnet was seen as the most dangerous threat, since it could affect a nation's infrastructure.

    Not to be left out of the discussion of security is the popularity of social networks. With sites such as Facebook and Twitter gaining importance in the lives of many, hackers have used them as ways to deliver attacks. Both individuals and businesses have been affected by social networking attacks, as hackers know that they are areas of vulnerability for many users.

    McAfee's third quarter report provides many details on the current state of Internet security. In a nutshell, however, the state can be described in one word: ominous.

    For more on this topic, visit http://news.cnet.com/8301-1009_3-20023067-83.html?tag=mncol;title

    DISCLAIMER: The content provided in this article is not warranted or guaranteed by Developer Shed, Inc. The content provided is intended for entertainment and/or educational purposes in order to introduce to the reader key ideas, concepts, and/or product reviews. As such it is incumbent upon the reader to employ real-world tactics for security and implementation of best practices. We are not liable for any negative consequences that may result from implementing any information covered in our articles or tutorials. If this is a hardware review, it is not recommended to open and/or modify your hardware.

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