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Malware Increased Fivefold during First Half of 2007

Malware like password stealers, keyloggers, trojans and other malicious codes installed on vulnerable systems have accelerated five times during the first six months of 2007, according to a Microsoft research released at the RSA Security Conference in London.

Microsoft indicated that during the above period, phishing attacks were identified with 31.6 Million scams that represented a 150% increases over the last six months of 2006.

Microsoft's survey interviewed over 3,600 security, marketing, and privacy executives across various industries including technology, financial services, health care and government agencies in the UK, Germany and the US.

The survey found that the contaminants that increased five-fold were crafted to pilfer users' personal data. Microsoft, which detected two Trojan families with the help of its MSRT or Malicious Software Removal Tool, found that they targeted user's banking information. The company was later able to clean up those Trojans. Microsoft had prepared its data partly on the basis of the findings of Windows Defender, OneCare and MSRT.

Attackers, who are progressively making profits by targeting private information, threaten the privacy of people. As criminal gangs get more sophisticated and with enterprises sharing information and operating business across various devices and geographical borders, opportunities to commit theft of personal data increase for cyber criminals have increased.

In a statement, Microsoft's Ben Fathi said that malicious attackers collect personal information to make their scams appear more authentic and once that happen, the credibility and success of the scams become apparent, enabling the criminals to make money. ComputerworldUK published Fathi's statement on October 23, 2007.

Microsoft's study also determined that cooperation among executives for data protection, security and marketing was very important for curtailing risks from vulnerabilities and threats to businesses. During the period 2005-2007, companies lacking appropriate co-operation suffered theft of customer data. This happened twice the number of incidents in organizations where inter-departmental co-operation was very good.

The survey found that security officials from most companies were unanimous in the opinion that executives should discuss with them prior to using or collecting personal information. On the other hand, only 30% of marketing executives actually did that. 65% of marketing officers said that protection of corporate reputation was the right motivation for securing data.

Related article: Malware Authors Turn More Insidious

» SPAMfighter News - 12-11-2007

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