Sophos Reveals Rise of Web-based Malware in Q1 2007

    Number of new Trojan horses, viruses and worms more than doubles

    BOSTON, April 24 /CNW/ -- Sophos, a world leader in IT security and
control, has announced the results of its research into worldwide cybercrime
activity during the first three months of 2007.  The findings reveal that the
overall number of new pieces of malware has grown dramatically, with the
majority of malicious code writers selecting the web as its playground of

    Q1 2007 at a glance:

    -- Number of malware more than doubled (23,864 new threats) compared to Q1
    -- Total spam relayed increased by 4.2 percent over the same period last
    -- Decline in overall infected emails -- from 1.3 percent to just 0.4
    -- On average, 5,000 new infected web pages were identified daily
    -- Troj/Fujif accounted for 50.8% of the 'top ten malware families hosted
       on websites'
    -- China identified as top country hosting web-based malware (41.1%)

    In the first quarter of 2007, Sophos identified 23,864 new threats --
more than double the number found in the same period last year when the
company identified 9,450.  At the same time, the percentage of infected email
has dropped from 1.3 percent or one in 77 emails in the first three months of
2006, to just 0.4 percent or one in 256 emails in 2007.

    Infected Websites Pose Greatest Threat
    From January to the end of March, Sophos identified an average of 5,000
new infected web pages daily, indicating that this route to infection is
becoming more popular with cybercriminals.  With computer users becoming
increasingly aware of how to protect against email-aware viruses and malware,
hackers have turned to the web as their preferred vector of attack.

    The top ten malware families hosted on websites in Q1 2007 were as

    1. Troj/Fujif      50.8%
    2. Troj/Ifradv     12.1%
    3. Troj/Decdec     10.4%
    4. Mal/Packer       6.3%
    5. JS/EncIFra       5.5%
    6. Mal/FunDF        2.3%
    7. Mal/Psyme        2.2%
    8. Troj/Zlob        2.0%
    9. Mal/Behav        1.2%
    10. Mal/DelpBanc    0.4%

    Others              6.8%

    Not all of the infected websites were created by the hackers themselves.
Sophos has found that the majority, 70 percent, were genuine websites that
were vulnerable to attack because they were unpatched, poorly coded or had not
been maintained by their owners. 12.8 percent of the compromised websites were
hosting malicious script while Windows malware was responsible for infecting
10.7 percent.  Adware was found on 4.8 percent of these pages and porn
diallers on 1.1 percent.
    The highest profile website infection of the quarter happened in February
when hackers placed malicious script, identified as Mal/Packer, on the
official Miami Dolphins website. The football team was due to host the Super
Bowl the weekend after this happened, so the site was an extremely popular
destination for web surfers at the time.  Sophos points out that attacks like
these outline the fact that any site, regardless of subject matter, can fall
victim and infect innocent visitors if it is not properly protected.
    "When comparing this quarter to the same period last year, it's very
clear that cybercrimals are again changing the way they operate," said Ron
O'Brien, senior security analyst at Boston-based Sophos. "It's shocking that
such a high percentage of web sites are vulnerable to hackers -- this is
definitely a big concern.  Website owners need to step up to bat, put more
emphasis on safeguarding their sites, and if needed, allocate more resources
to ensure that the proper security is in place."
    Sophos recommends that businesses deploy web security solutions that not
only filter based on website categorization, but that properly inspect the
code of every website before granting access.
    In another incident in March this year, cybercriminals used spam
campaigns to lure users to hacked sites in an attempt to sell goods.
    Legitimate websites with PHP vulnerabilities were hacked, redirecting
visitors to a pharmaceutical store selling drugs.  By using legitimate URLs in
their spam messages, they were able to avoid less sophisticated spam filters.
When the user clicked on the link, they went to a genuine website only to then
be automatically redirected to the hackers' site.

    Web-based Malware Hosting Countries
    The top ten countries hosting web-based malware in Q1 2007 were as

    1. China           41.1%
    2. United States   29.2%
    3. Russia           4.6%
    4. Germany          4.6%
    5. Ukraine          3.9%
    6. United Kingdom   3.0%
    7. France           2.2%
    8. Netherlands      1.9%
    9. South Korea      1.3%
    10. Taiwan          1.0%

    Others              8.1%

    The first quarter of 2007 revealed that the UK, now responsible for
hosting three percent of infected websites, entered this chart for the first
time at number six.  There was also a dramatic increase in the number of
hacked sites hosted by China, which is now responsible for hosting over a
third of all web-based malware, taking top position from the United States
that led the chart at the end of 2006.

    Polish ISP Sends Five Percent of World's Spam
    Earlier this month, Sophos revealed that there was a surprise newcomer to
the dirty dozen spam relaying countries.  Having never made an appearance in
this chart previously, Poland made a dramatic entry at number three and was
responsible for relaying 7.4 percent of the world's spam.  Sophos's research
shows that one single ISP is largely responsible for Poland's position as one
of the world's principal spammers.  From January to March 2007, one in 20 of
all spam messages worldwide was sent by Polish Telecom.
    In total, the amount of spam relayed in Q1 2007 has increased by 4.2
percent over the same period last year.

    Further information can be found at:

    About Sophos
    Sophos is a world leader in IT security and control.  Sophos offers
complete protection and control to business, education and government
organizations -- defending against known and unknown malware, spyware,
intrusions, unwanted applications, spam, policy abuse and uncontrolled network
access (NAC).  Sophos's reliably engineered, easy-to-operate products protect
more than 100 million users in more than 150 countries.  Through over 20
years' experience and a global network of threat analysis centers, the company
responds rapidly to emerging threats and achieves the highest levels of
customer satisfaction in the industry. Sophos is a global company with
headquarters in Boston, MA, and Oxford, UK.  For more information on Sophos,

    For more information, contact:
    Heather Ailara                       Jennifer Torode
    Racepoint Group                      Sophos
    (781) 487-4650                       (781) 494-5885 


For further information:

For further information: Heather Ailara, Racepoint Group,
+1-781-487-4650,, for Sophos; or Jennifer Torode,
of Sophos,  +1-781-494-5885, Web Site:

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