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RESEARCH: VIRUSES ARE THE LEAST OF YOUR WORRIES

Source: SecurityWatch

Posted on May 16, 2012

Panda Security's first-quarter report for 2012 reveals something rather interesting about the antivirus market. Based on the report's figures, a literal antivirus program, one that strictly and only protects against viruses, would miss almost 95 percent of new malware threats. Fortunately, antivirus is merely the catch-all term we use for security programs that protect against all the multifarious types of malware.

Trojans Increasing

Trojans horses, or just Trojans, massively dominated, forming 80 percent of new threats this quarter. A Trojan, like the Trojan horse of legend, seems to be something good and valuable. When you let it into your computer, though, it performs malicious actions like stealing passwords or enlisting your PC into a spam-spewing bot network.

In 2011, says the report, "only" 73 percent of the new threats were Trojans. Viruses and worms swapped places in the ranking, with worms maintaining about the same percentage and viruses dropping to less than half of last year's percentage.

Panda also tracked the number of infections caused by malware in each category. It's worth noting that worms caused just 8 percent of these. A worm is like a virus in that it spreads from computer to computer, but unlike a virus it doesn't require any action on the user's part. In the past, threats like the Storm worm have caused massive worldwide outbreaks. Panda reports that "massive worm epidemics have become a thing of the past and have been replaced by an increasing avalanche of silent Trojans."

The Rise of Ransomware

Panda's report devotes a whole section to what's being called "Police Malware." When this threat strikes, it displays a warning claiming that law enforcement officials have detected illegal content such as child pornography or illegal activities such as sending terrorist-inspired spam. The warning window blocks all other use of the computer and demands a 100 euro fine. Until the user pays up, the computer remains unusable.

The malware uses IP geolocation to detect the victim's location and displays a message in the appropriate language, referencing the appropriate national law enforcement organization. Panda's report contains screenshots from the Spanish, German, Dutch, French, and English versions. After this major effort at verisimilitude, it's mildly surprising to see ungrammatical text like "Moreover and e-mail spam was sent you're your computer, e-mails containing terroristic materials" in the screenshots.

The full report also covers recent activities by Anonymous, the possibly-reborn LulzSec, and attacks on Facebook and Sony.




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