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November 17, 2010

Average daily malware growth quadruples since 2007, says McAfee report

Zeus attacks on mobile devices, Cutwail Botnet and Stuxnet are the top threats in Q3

By CBR Staff Writer

Average daily malware growth has reached its highest levels, with an average of 60,000 new pieces of malware identified per day, almost quadrupling since 2007, according to McAfee Threats Report: Third Quarter 2010.

However, both globally and in local geographies, spam levels have decreased in volume this quarter, and have hit a two year low.

McAfee said that it identified more than 14 million unique pieces of malware in 2010, one million more than Q3 2009.

The report said that Zeus botnet, a sophisticated malware, plagued users in Q3, incurring $70m losses for businesses at the hands of Ukrainian cybercriminals.

Cybercriminals has unleashed the Zeus botnet aimed at mobile devices, designed to intercept SMS messages to validate transactions, and help the criminal to perform the full bank operation, stealing funds from unsuspecting victims.

McAfee also saw an increase in email campaigns attempting to deliver the Zeus botnet, under the disguise of recognised organisations, such as eFAX, FedEx, Internal Revenue Service, Social Security Administration, US Postal Service and Western Union.

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The report further said that Botnet activity remained strong in the third quarter, the most popular of which, Cutwail, accounting for more than 50% of traffic in every country.

Cutwail bots engaged in distributed denial-of-service attacks against more than 300 websites, including US government departments such as the Central Intelligence Agency and Federal Bureau of Investigation, and businesses websites such as Twitter and PayPal.

The attacks on social media by Koobface and AutoRun malwares seem to have leveled off, but have not ended cybercriminal manipulation, according to the report.

The other popular malware that have affected online users is Stuxnet worm discovered in July, and by September, more detailed analysis found that Stuxnet can act as a weapon to sabotage critical infrastructure. First found in in Iran, the malware has affected India most.

McAfee senior vice president and chief technology officer of Global Threat Intelligence Mike Gallagher said their Q3 Threat report shows that cybercriminals are not only becoming more saavy, but attacks are becoming increasingly more severe.

"Cybercriminals are attacking mobile devices and social networking sites, so education about user activity online, as well as incorporating the proper security technologies are of utmost importance," Gallagher said.

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