Gamers, Social Networks, and U.S. Presidential Election at Risk;
Bots Switch Up Tactics; Malware Gets Smarter
ISLANDIA, NY, Jan. 9 /CNW/ - The latest Internet Security Outlook Report
issued today by CA, Inc. (NYSE: CA) forewarns that online gamers, social
networks and high-profile events like the U.S. presidential election and the
Beijing Olympics are among the top potential targets for online attacks in
2008. The study, based on data compiled by CA's Global Security Advisor
researchers, features Internet security predictions for 2008 and also reports
on trends from 2007.
"Cyber-criminals go where opportunity lies and take advantage of any and
all vulnerabilities," said Brian Grayek, vice president of Product Management
for CA's Internet Security Business Unit. "While security protection is
becoming better at detecting malware, online thieves are getting smarter and
stealthier in the way they attack our computers."
CA online security predictions for 2008:
1. Bots will dominate 2008: The number of computers infected by botnets
will increase sharply in 2008. In an effort to become harder to detect,
bot-herders are changing their tactics and decentralizing via
peer-to-peer architectures. They are increasingly using instant
messaging as their main vehicle for spreading botnets.
2. Smarter malware: There are new levels of sophistication in malware.
Malware will target virtualized computers, and increasing use of
obfuscation techniques to hide in plain sight, including
steganography and encryptions, will help criminals conceal their
3. Gamers under fire: Gamers already are a prized target, and stealing
their account credentials continues to be a primary objective of
online criminals. Gamers historically are more concerned with
optimizing their PCs for high performance rather than for tight
security. In 2008, virtual assets will equal real world money for
4. Social networking sites in the crosshairs: Social networking sites
will become increasingly popular and, as a result, more vulnerable.
The large number of aggregated potential victims and relatively small
concern for computer security make these sites a windfall for cyber
5. Key dates for opportunity: The U.S. presidential election and the
2008 Olympics in Beijing offer high-profile opportunities for
destructive attacks and corruption or outright theft of information.
6. Web 2.0 services and sites will come under targeted attacks: While it
is relatively easy to implement Web 2.0 services, it can be quite
challenging to configure them to be totally secure. Therefore, many
Internet sites using these services are easy targets with little
outward indication that a site is compromised.
7. Windows Vista at risk: As businesses and consumers buy new computers,
Vista's market share will grow. Although it is designed as Microsoft's
most secure operating system, 20 vulnerabilities were reported in 2007,
according to the National Institute of Standards and Technology. As more
people use it, the more attackers will target it.
8. Mobile devices will still be safe: Mobile devices are still safe,
despite rumors of mobile malware. Smartphones and other mobile devices
will not be a real opportunity for criminals in 2008. Proof-of-concept
malware for mobile devices has not yet translated into any meaningful
attacks. The only significant mobile vulnerability reported in 2007 was
to the Apple iPhone.
"The digital footprints that are collected and stored whenever we use the
Internet are incredibly valuable to marketers and to online criminals," Grayek
continued. "We've seen malware evolve from a cottage industry to a
full-fledged fraud business. Shockingly, it is now operating with business
practices and development similar to legitimate software organizations. Our
attitude about protecting our Internet privacy and the subsequent actions we
take - whether at work or at play - can dramatically alter our online safety."
CA researchers tracked the following trends in 2007:
- Malware volumes grew by 16 times in October vs. January 2007.
- For the first time, malicious spyware surpassed trojans as the most
prevalent form of malware. In 2007, 56 percent of the total malware
seen was malicious spyware, 32 percent were trojans, 9 percent were
worms, and 2 percent were viruses.
- Adware, trojans and downloaders were the most common types of
- The most widespread worms this year were simple network and removable
drive worms. Some worms cripple computers as they go. Others worms
drop additional malware or open the compromised computers to backdoor
control by a malicious attacker.
- Rogue-or fake-security software has been an ongoing problem, and it's
indicative of the rising tide of misleading applications. Rogue
security software made up 6 percent of the total spyware volume in
2007. Rogue security software is typically distributed via online ads
for free anti-spyware software.
- Attack methods converged and blended threats with multiple components
are now the norm.
- More than 90 percent of email is spam, and more than 80 percent of
spam contains links to malicious sites or malware.
- The quality of spam has improved and is no longer obviously riddled
with typos. It is also laden with attachments - images, PDFs,
documents, spreadsheets or videos - that have malware or link to
- Malware is an international issue. Much of the criminal activity
originates in Eastern Europe and Asia and is targeted at nations
where there are large populations of Internet users. Nearly
40 percent of spam was directed towards the United States. Australia,
the U.K., France and Germany were also targeted. Malware is an
emerging issue in Latin America, South Korea, and China.
The CA 2008 Internet Security Outlook report is intended to inform
consumers and businesses of the newest and most dangerous Internet threats,
forecast trends and provide practical advice for protection. The analysis
provided is based on incident information from the CA Global Security Advisor
team, submitted by CA customers and consumers from January to October 2007, as
well as publicly available information. For the full CA 2008 Internet Security
Outlook report, please visit www.ca.com/securityadvisor.
The CA Global Security Advisor Team delivers the around-the-clock,
dependable security expertise, offering trusted security advice to the world
for more than 16 years. Providing a complete threat management resource, CA's
Security Advisor Team is staffed by industry-leading researchers and skilled
support professionals. CA Global Security Advisor is available at
www.ca.com/securityadvisor. It offers free security alerts, RSS feeds,
PC scans and a regular blog updated by the worldwide team of researchers. CA's
entire portfolio of threat-related products for home, small and medium
businesses, and enterprises are updated and protected by the CA Global
Security Advisor team.
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provides software solutions to unify and simplify(TM) IT management. With CA's
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