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E-Threats Shifting With the Rising Popularity of Web 2.0

Malware writers have continued their efforts to infect computer users in order to receive direct financial gain

Malware writers have preserved their focus on web-based attacks while actively looking for new methods to disseminate their products, according to BitDefender, an award-winning provider of innovative anti-malware security solutions.

Today, BitDefender released the results of its malware and spam survey from July through December 2009, showing an increase in a wide range of threats, from the exploitation of international news events to higher levels of spam being disseminated through social networking platforms aiming to curb marketing costs in a down economy.

Malware Threats in Review
Over the last six months, malware writers have continued their efforts to infect computer users in order to receive direct financial gain and/or to seize control over their machines.Trojan.Clicker.CM holds as the number one e-threat for the second half of the year. It's used to force advertisements inside the users' browsers when visiting grey area websites (such as porn websites or services offering "warez" software). The alarming infection rate reveals that malware authors are driven by profit, while cyber-criminals are motivated by pay-per-click fraud.

Along with the already "traditional" Trojan.Clicker.CM infections, Win32.Worm.Downadup has been one of the most notorious e-threats of the past six months. Malware authors' top choice of distributing their e-threats remains the web, but Autorun-based techniques have been rapidly gaining ground. By default, every removable storage device features an autorun.ini script that instructs the computer on which file to execute when the medium is plugged in. However, malware authors frequently tamper with the file to make it launch miscellaneous malicious applications. Although extremely useful for non-technical computer users, the feature has been completely discarded in Windows Vista SP2 and Windows 7 in order to prevent infections.

"In the second half of 2009, we saw international events such as the advent of the H1N1 Swine Flu exploited to their full extent by malware authors in order to launch new infections," said Vlad Vâlceanu, Head of BitDefender Antispam Research Lab. "As cybercriminals continue to look for ways to enhance their e-threats, now more than ever, it's essential for computer users to make sure they have a security solution in place that can provide them with advanced, proactive protection."

During the last six months the most active countries in terms of malware propagation were China, France and the United States, followed by Australia (up one place from the first half of 2009), Romania (also up one place) and Spain (down one place).

World's Top 10 Malware from July-December 2009
   01.     Trojan.Clicker.CM              8.97%
   02.     Trojan.AutorunINF.Gen          8.41%
   03.     Trojan.Wimad.Gen.1             4.41%
   04.     Win32.Worm.Downadup.Gen        4.13%
   05.     Exploit.PDF-JS.Gen             3.39%
   06.     Win32.Sality.OG                2.60%
   07.     Trojan.Autorun.AET             1.97%
   08.     Worm.Autorun.VHG               1.59%
   09.     Trojan.JS.PYV                  1.50%
   10.     Exploit.SWF.Gen                1.47%

Spam Trends in Second Half of 2009
During the second half of 2009, the spam landscape has remained relatively unchanged, with Canadian Pharmacy positioned as the top worldwide spammer. Most of the messages advertised sexual enhancement products such as alternative replacements for Cialis, Viagra and Levitra. This is an extremely lucrative field of spam, mostly because the products ordered via Canadian Pharmacy webshops never make it to the customer, who is often too ashamed to report these issues to the authorities. More than that, these online payments are extremely risky, since the spammer has access to the used credit card details and can draw any amount of money at will.

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