Security Mid-Year Reports

By Ericka Chickowski  |  Posted 08-13-2009

Security Mid-Year Reports

Recently both McAfee and Symantec released reports on the state of malicious online activity in 2009. Here are some highlights from the stats and findings of Symantec's Mid-Year Update and the McAfee Threats Report .


The number of malware variants created by hackers to fool the security geeks continues to mushroom exponentially.


Symantec reports that it now blocks a monthly average of 245 million attempted malicious code attacks worldwide, most of them zero day attacks delivered via the Web.


McAfee reports that one of the most common forms of malware making waves today takes advantage of AutoRun features on USB thumb drives-in a 30-day period last quarter the company found more than 27 million infected files on customer computers.


After authorities shut down the infamous McColo facility in 2008, spam volumes dropped by nearly three quarters in a 24-hour period. Since then they've crept right back up.


Symantec reported that throughout June spam was averaging about 90 percent of all e-mail messages.


McAfee saw similar numbers. It reports that the amount of spam sent grew by 80 percent from first quarter to second quarter of 2009.


The surge in spam is directly correlated with increased zombie and botnet activity over the year so far.


According to McAfee, the first six months of the year saw an explosion of 26 million new zombies waking to service-approximately 150,000 new zombies created from unprotected machines each day-an unabated trend that portends continued spam and malware problems throughout the rest of the year.


Social networking sites are quickly becoming one of the most lucrative and effective tools that online scammers and thieves have available to them today.


"For example, there was a recent and well-publicized set of attacks on a popular social networking site," Symantec researchers wrote, "in which phishers took one compromised user account and used it as a launch pad for targeting that user's friends."


Similarly, hackers also created a 'game' on a blogging site that asked a lot of revealing personal information upon registration to fool hapless participants into divulging information like their mother's maiden name, Symantec says.