Report: Cybercriminals Responsible For More Than A Third Of Viruses In 2010

PandaLabs, the antimalware laboratory of Panda Securityhas released its 2010 Annual Security Report, which details an extremely interesting year of cybercrime, cyberwar and cyberactivism.

The full report is available at http://press.pandasecurity.com/press-room/panda-white-paper/.

In 2010, cybercriminals created and distributed one-third of all existing viruses, creating 34 percent of all malware that has ever existed and been classified by the company. Panda Security's proprietary Collective Intelligence system, which automatically detects, analyzes and classifies 99.4 percent of all malware received, currently stores 134 million unique files, out of which 60 million are malware (viruses, worms, Trojans and other computer threats).

Despite these dramatic numbers, the report highlights some good news. PandaLabs discovered that the speed at which the number of new threats is growing has actually decreased when compared to 2009. Every year since 2003, new threats grew by at least 100 percent every year, but in 2010, the increase was approximately 50 percent. 

Banker Trojans still dominate the ranking of new malware that appeared in 2010 (56 percent of all samples), followed by viruses and worms. In addition, a fairly recent newcomer to the malware landscape, rogueware (fake antivirus software) already comprised 11.6  of all the malware gathered in the Collective Intelligence database, and has become a category, that despite appearing only four years ago, has created great havoc among users.

The countries leading the list of most infections are Thailand, China and Taiwan, with 60 to 70 percent of infected computers (data gathered from the free scanning tool Panda ActiveScan in 2010).

2010 witnessed hackers exploit social media, the positioning of fake websites (BlackHat SEO techniques) and zero-day vulnerabilities as its primary methods of infection. Spam also kept its position as one of the main threats in 2010, despite the fact that the dismantling of certain botnets (like the famous Operation Mariposa or Bredolab) prevented many computers from being used as zombies to send spam. This created a positive effect in spam traffic worldwide. Last year, approximately 95 percent of all email traffic globally was spam, but this dropped to an average of 85 percent in 2010. 

2010 was truly the year of cybercrime, cyberwar and cyberactivism. Although cyber-crime has existed for many years, cyber-war became a much more active and aggressive part of the malware landscape. The most notorious was Stuxnet, a new worm that targeted nuclear power plants and managed to infect the Bushehr plant, as confirmed by the Iranian authorities. Simultaneously, a new worm appeared called "Here you have," that was created by a terrorist organization known as "Brigades of Tariq ibn Ziyad." According to this group, their intention was to remind the United States of the 9/11 attacks and call for respect for the Islamic religion as a response to Pastor Terry Jones' threat of burning the Quran.

And even though some aspects are still to be clarified, Operation Aurora was also in the spotlight. The attack, allegedly launched from China, targeted employees of large multinationals by installing a Trojan on their PCs that could access all their confidential information.

2010 also witnessed the emergence of new phenomenon called cyber-protests or hacktivism. This phenomenon, made famous by the Anonymous group, is not actually new, but grabbed the headlines in 2010 for the coordinated DDoS attacks launched on copyright societies and their defense of WikiLeaks' founder Julian Assange.

Besides offering information about the main security holes in Windows and Mac, the 2010 Annual Security Report also covers the most important security incidents affecting the most popular social networking sites. Facebook and Twitter were the most affected, but there were also attacks on other sites including LinkedIn and Fotolog. There were several techniques used for tricking users on these sites, such as hijacking Facebook's "Like" button, stealing identities to send out messages from trusted sources, exploiting vulnerabilities in Twitter to run Javascript code and distributing fake apps that redirect users to infected sites.

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