Malware writers gear up for bumper 2008

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Malware writers gear up for bumper 2008

Security experts have warned users to focus on securing their whole online lifestyle in 2008.

Care should be taken in all aspects of online services, including bill payments, shopping and stock trading, and not just in the use of social networking and gaming sites.

"Social engineering will still be the preferred method to lure people into infecting their computer or giving away password information, but the approaches will become much more sophisticated," said Diego d'Ambra, chief technology officer at SoftScan.

"As criminals redouble their efforts to improve response yields and ultimately increase turnover, we expect to see highly targeted spam with content written specifically for the recipient."

D'Ambra believes that the majority of information used to create spam messages will be collected from online services, which often hold private and financial data that can be exploited.

Phishing attacks are also likely to have a makeover in 2008. Links will redirect users to spoofed sites that include symbols such as the padlock and allow the criminal to lead the user further into a false sense of security.

Popular websites that include content and links from a large range of third parties will be high on the target list for malware writers, according to SoftScan.

Attacks have already seen advertising content providers inadvertently delivering malware via infected adverts. SoftScan expects this type of threat to develop further during 2008.

"Botnets will continue to play an important part in the dissemination of spam and other types of attack, and their 'success' may well inspire others to start their own business," said d'Ambra.

"If this occurs, we will also see criminals developing malware to try to harvest each other's bots, proving that there is no honour among thieves in the online world."

At the same time, SoftScan expects to see plenty of old tricks in 2008. The Olympics, European Soccer Championship and the US Presidential election will be popular subjects for malware emails.

In addition, spammers will continue to use obfuscation techniques to beat anti-spam filters by using video clips and the like to deliver messages.
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