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Cybercriminals 'to target small businesses'

Dubai, April 1, 2009

Virtual worlds will experience more real-world trouble as cybercriminals work faster than ever this year targeting small to medium-sized businesses rather than individual home users, said Trend Micro, an Internet content security expert.

In its annual 'Trend Micro Threat Roundup & 2009 Forecast', the company said Malware exploits had moved at unprecedented speed and volume last year but 2009 may bring increasing co-operation among security vendors and law enforcement agencies to bring down criminal enterprises.

While malware authors have always moved quickly – releasing code as soon as an exploit is discovered – Trend Micro threat researchers witnessed faster-than-ever malware exploits in 2008, partly due to the “in-the-cloud” threat models and architectures cybercriminals have repurposed for profit, and making the Internet the major vector used in the dissemination of malware.

For the security industry, this means traditional methods of protection are inadequate. Trend Micro responded in 2008 by taking the battle against the bad guys into the Internet cloud so that threats are stopped before they can do damage, the report said.

Most of these threats are disseminated through the Internet cloud, making everyone who surfs the Web vulnerable to becoming victims.

In 2008, Trend Micro furthered its vision and strategy to move security capabilities into the Internet cloud with Trend Micro Smart Protection Network, a next-generation cloud-client content security infrastructure designed to protect customers from Web threats.

Trend Micro Smart Protection Network delivers correlated, up-to-the-minute threat intelligence so customers get immediate protection.

Exploits such as Domain-Name-Server (DNS) changing malware that literally routes any machine to any site took on more aggressively in 2008.

Browser exploits like the zero-day exploit for Microsoft Internet Explorer became a favorite of cybercriminals in 2008. Additional attacks were launched against other browsers– all done quickly and surreptitiously, before these companies were able to issue fixes, it said.

Data-stealing malware also experienced tremendous growth in 2008. Initiated by a Trojan attack, the primary goal of data-stealing malware is to capture sensitive data from users’ PCs then send it back to a bot herder or other criminal operators either for direct exploitation or for resale on the digital Black Market.

According to the report, the US topped the list of the most spammed country, receiving 22.5 per cent of all spam, while Europe is the most spammed continent.

China’s percentages have been increasing lately, showing 7.7 per cent spam volume in 2008, compared to 5.23 percent or less in Russia, Brazil, and the Republic of South Korea.

From January until November 2008, a staggering 34.3 million PCs were infected with bots, software programs that allow remote control of a PC by a third party. The biggest three-month increase occurred from June to August when there was a 476-per cent spike in infections, the report added.

In November 2008, a group of security researchers blew the whistle on San Jose-based McColo Corporation – one of the world’s largest sources of spam. Trend Micro threat experts expect more efforts similar to the McColo takedown where collaborative security-community efforts are used to dismantle cyber gangs.

A Trend Micro official pointed out that monetary gain will continue to drive the continuous creation of new malware. Sophisticated blended threats are the new frontier.

Web threats will continue to involve multiple vectors, to avoid detection. These threats will employ the latest tricks and techniques in the coming year, such as the DNS changer Trojan, as malware writers continue to leverage the best tools available, the official added.

A rise in ransomware may occur in the second half of the year, targeting small to


Tags: Trend Micro | cyber criminals |

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