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Written by Daniel   
Friday, 07 September 2007 15:26

Financially motivated malware thrives
Automated software packages are making it easy for unskilled hackers to earn a living by sending out spam
By Jon Brodkin, Network World, Info World

September 07, 2007
Financially motivated malware attacks are on the rise, with automated software packages making it easy for unskilled hackers to earn a living by sending out spam, researchers at messaging security vendor Secure Computing say. A malware kit called MPack, released by Russian hackers last December, allows pretty much anyone with $200 to become a master spammer because it is easy to use and exploits vulnerabilities in FireFox, Internet Explorer and Apple's QuickTime, says Dmitri Alperovitch, principal research scientist for Secure Computing.

 

The trend that "kind of defines 2007" is the convergence of traditional e-mail with Web-based attacks, in which message recipients are prompted to click on links to malicious Web sites, rather than to download attachments, Alperovitch says.

"Certainly, exploiting Web browser vulnerabilities has been common. We've seen that for a long time," he says. "Now we're seeing that capability being merged with traditional e-mail worms that sort of blanket the Internet."

Information-stealing malware now accounts for 10 percent of all threats, up from 8 percent in January, new research from Secure Computing has found. Trojans comprise 63 percent of all newly discovered malware, up from 58 percent in January.

Spyware and phishing are also becoming more problematic as attackers use more targeted attacks to steal personal and financial information. "The barriers to entry into cyber crime have been lowered so much," Alperovitch says. "People are realizing that they can make very serious money with almost no accountability, almost complete anonymity."

Quoting the analyst firm Gartner, Secure Computing's researchers say that 75 percent of enterprises will be infected by "undetectable professional-grade malware" by year-end.

About 90 percent of all e-mail is malicious, but that figure will rise as the holiday season gets closer, according to Alperovitch.... More

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