Mafia-style mobs muscle in on malware

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Mafia-style mobs muscle in on malware

McAfee highlights top 10 threats for 2007.

Organised crime syndicates have taken over much of the creation and exploitation of malware in circulation today, security experts have warned.

Jeff Green, senior vice president of product development at McAfee Avert Labs, said: "Professional and organised criminals continue to drive a lot of the malicious activity on the net."

However, he added that he was pleasantly surprised that mobile malware and image spam have tapered off, according to McAfee's latest threat monitoring data.

McAfee Avert Labs list of the top 10 security threats for 2007:

Password-stealing websites are on the rise

The number of phishing websites continues to rise exponentially. McAfee Avert Labs saw a 784 per cent increase in phishing websites in the first quarter of 2007, with "no slowdown in sight".

Spam, particularly image spam, is on the rise

The total amount of spam caught in McAfee Avert Labs' traps has stayed fairly flat during the first part of the year. Image spam accounted for up to 65 per cent of all spam at the beginning of 2007 but it has actually dropped recently.

Video on the web will become a target for hackers

Cyber-criminals are riding the wave of online video on social networking sites such as YouTube and MySpace.

More mobile attacks

Mobile malware numbers are "surprisingly" down with a dozen new examples of malicious software targeted at devices such as cellphones and smartphones for the first quarter of 2007.

Adware will go mainstream

McAfee predicted that more legitimate companies would try advertising software to target consumers. However, because adware has a bad reputation, businesses are trying other ways to deliver their message on the internet. BitTorrent, for example, is establishing a trend by offering free ad-supported video downloads as an alternative to paid downloads.

Identity theft and data loss will continue to be a public issue

Unauthorised transfer of data is becoming more of a risk to enterprises including loss of customer data, employee personal information and intellectual property. This information can leak not only via the web, but through portable storage devices, printers and fax machines. More than 13.7 million records have been breached so far this year, according to, compared to 1.8 million records during the same period last year.

Bots will increase

This prediction has been particularly tough to prove. A superficial read of statistics indicates that the use of bots has actually decreased lately.

Parasitic malware is making a comeback

Parasitic infectors are viruses that modify existing files on a disk, injecting code into the file where it resides.

Root-kits will increase on 32-bit platforms

About 200,000 computers have been infected with root-kits since the beginning of 2007, according to Avert Labs' virus tracking mechanism, a 10 per cent increase over the first quarter of 2006.

Vulnerabilities continue to cause concern

There are more vulnerabilities to worry about than ever before. Microsoft issued 35 security bulletins, 25 of which were tagged 'critical' and nine 'important', in the first six months of 2007.
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