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March 29, 2010

Cybercriminals exploit popularity of social media

Fake antivirus software and fake video codec most common web-based threats in 2009

By CBR Staff Writer

The popularity of social networking services and changes in online user behaviour are driving broader attack strategies, including complex blended threats, faster malware lifecycles and search engine manipulation, according to a new report from Blue Coat.

The report, based on data collected from Blue Coat WebPulse service, found that that the average lifespan of malware dropped to two hours in 2009, from as many as seven hours in 2007, as cybercriminals responded to the increasing use and effectiveness of URL filtering at blocking malware sources.

Web-based email popularity has been decreased due to more reliance on social networking for communication. Social networking sites accounted for one quarter of the total internet access activity in 2009.

According to the study, two most common web-based threats in 2009 were the fake antivirus software and the fake video codec that exploited user trust in the internet, search engines and social networks. Online storage and software download sites were the most frequent hiding places for web-based malware in 2009.

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The report also found that the number of malware sites nearly doubled in 2009 and there has been 500% increase in the number of malware effects sites, due to the emergence of advanced spyware that generates multiple URLs.

Bob Hansmann, senior product marketing manager at Blue Coat Systems, said: “The social engineering techniques that cybercriminals are using today make it difficult for enterprises to protect their users with traditional desktop defenses alone. Enterprises need to go one step further to mitigate exposure to these new web threats and add defenses that can dynamically analyse and rate new web content to provide continuous protection and on-demand security intelligence.”

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