Symantec Reports Cyber Criminals Are Becoming Increasingly Professional



    New Internet Security Threat Research Reveals that Hackers are Adopting
    New Business-Like Strategies to Successfully Perform Malicious Activity

    TORONTO, Sept. 17 /CNW/ - The latest Internet Security Threat Report
(ISTR), Volume XII released today by Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq:   SYMC) concludes
that cyber criminals are increasingly becoming more professional - even
commercial - in the development, distribution and use of malicious code and
services. While cybercrime continues to be driven by financial gain, cyber
criminals are now utilizing more professional attack methods, tools and
strategies to conduct malicious activity.
    "As the global cyber threat continues to grow, it has never been more
important to remain vigilant and informed on the evolving threat landscape,"
said Dan Lohrmann, chief information security officer, State of Michigan.
"Symantec's Internet Security Threat Report continues to provide us with
critical information on the most current online security trends, helping us
better protect our state's infrastructure and citizen information."
    During the reporting period of Jan. 1, 2007, through June 30, 2007,
Symantec detected an increase in cyber criminals leveraging sophisticated
toolkits to carry out malicious attacks. One example of this strategy was
MPack, a professionally developed toolkit sold in the underground economy.
Once purchased, attackers could deploy MPack's collection of software
components to install malicious code on thousands of computers around the
world and then monitor the success of the attack through various metrics on
its online, password protected control and management console. MPack also
exemplifies a coordinated attack, which Symantec reported as a growing trend
in the previous volume of the ISTR where cyber criminals deploy a combination
of malicious activity.
    Phishing toolkits, which are a series of scripts that allow an attacker
to automatically set up phishing Web sites that spoof legitimate Web sites,
are also available for professional and commercial cybercrime. The top three
most widely used phishing toolkits were responsible for 42 percent of all
phishing attacks detected during the reporting period.
    "In the last several Internet Security Threat Reports, Symantec discussed
a significant shift in attackers motivated from fame to fortune," said Arthur
Wong, senior vice president, Symantec Security Response and Managed Services.
"The Internet threats and malicious activity we are currently tracking
demonstrate that hackers are taking this trend to the next level by making
cybercrime their actual profession, and they are employing business-like
practices to successfully accomplish this goal."

    Increase in Cyber Criminals Exploiting Trusted Environments to Target
    Victims

    During the reporting period, Symantec detected attackers indirectly
targeting victims by first exploiting vulnerabilities in trusted environments,
such as popular financial, social networking and career recruitment Web sites.
Symantec observed 61 percent of all vulnerabilities disclosed were in Web
applications. Once a trusted Web site has been compromised, cyber criminals
can use it as a source for distribution of malicious programs in order to then
compromise individual computers. This attack method allows cyber criminals to
wait for their victims to come to them versus actively seeking out targets.
Social networking Web sites are particularly valuable to attackers since they
provide access to a large number of people, many of whom trust the site and
its security. These Web sites can also expose a lot of confidential user
information that can then be used in attempts to conduct identity theft,
online fraud or to provide access to other Web sites from which attackers can
deploy further attacks.

    Rise in Multi-Staged Attacks

    During the first six months of 2007, Symantec observed an increase in the
number of multi-staged attacks which consist of an initial attack that is not
intended to perform malicious activities immediately, but that is used to
deploy subsequent attacks. One example of a multi-staged attack is a staged
downloader that allows an attacker to change the downloadable component to any
type of threat that suits the attacker's objectives. According to the ISTR,
Symantec observed that 28 of the top 50 malicious code samples were staged
downloaders. Peacomm Trojan, mostly known as Storm Worm, is a staged
downloader that was also the most widely reported new malicious code family
during the reporting period. In addition to serving as an attack toolkit,
MPack is an example of a multi-staged attack that included a staged downloader
component.

    Additional Key Findings

    The Symantec Internet Security Threat Report, Volume XII covers the
reporting period of Jan. 1, 2007, through June 30, 2007.

    
    -   Credit cards were the most commonly advertised commodity on
        underground economy servers, making up 22 percent of all
        advertisements; bank accounts were in close second with 21 percent.

    -   Symantec documented 237 vulnerabilities in Web browser plug-ins. This
        is a significant increase over 74 in the second half of 2006, and 34
        in the first half of 2006.

    -   Malicious code that attempted to steal account information for online
        games made up 5 percent of the top 50 malicious code samples by
        potential infection. Online gaming is becoming one of the most
        popular Internet activities and often features goods that can be
        purchased for real money, which provides a potential opportunity for
        attackers to benefit financially.

    -   Spam made up 61 percent of all monitored e-mail traffic, representing
        a slight increase over the last six months of 2006 when 59 percent of
        e-mail was classified as spam.

    -   Theft or loss of computer or other data-storage medium made up
        46 percent of all data breaches that could lead to identity theft.
        Similarly, Symantec's IT Risk Management Report found that 58 percent
        of enterprises expect a major data loss at least once every 5 years.
    

    About the Symantec Internet Security Threat Report

    The semiannual Symantec Internet Security Threat Report (ISTR),
Volume XII covers the six-month period from January 1, 2007, through June 30,
2007. It is based on Symantec data collected from more than 40,000 sensors
deployed in more than 180 countries in addition to a database that covers more
than 22,000 vulnerabilities affecting more than 50,000 technologies from more
than 8,000 vendors. Symantec also reviews more than 2 million decoy accounts
that attract e-mail messages from 20 different countries around the world
allowing Symantec to gauge global spam and phishing activity. The full
Internet Security Threat Report includes additional statistics and detail and
is available for download at www.symantec.com/threatreport/. Broadcast media
can download multimedia at www.thenewsmarket.com/symantec.

    About Symantec

    Symantec is a global leader in infrastructure software, enabling
businesses and consumers to have confidence in a connected world. The company
helps customers protect their infrastructure, information and interactions by
delivering software and services that address risks to security, availability,
compliance and performance. Headquartered in Cupertino, Calif., Symantec has
operations in 40 countries. More information is available at www.symantec.com.

    Symantec's Canadian operations are headquartered in Toronto with offices
in Montreal, Ottawa, Calgary and Vancouver. For more information on Symantec
products or current promotions, access Symantec's Canadian Web site at
www.symantec.ca. Symantec is an active member of the Canadian Alliance Against
Software Theft (CAAST).

    NOTE TO EDITORS: If you would like additional information on Symantec
    Corporation and its products, please visit the Symantec News Room at
    http://www.symantec.com/news. All prices noted are in U.S. dollars and
    are valid only in the United States.

    Symantec and the Symantec Logo are trademarks or registered trademarks of
    Symantec Corporation or its affiliates in the U.S. and other countries.
    Other names may be trademarks of their respective owners.





For further information:

For further information: Matthew Kanas, MAVERICK Public Relations, (416)
640-5525 ext. 237, matthewk@maverickpr.com

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