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Rogue Security Software: Most Prevalent Threat in 2009

Rogue or counterfeit software has been one of the most prominent online threats in 2009, according to a study conducted by Computer Associates (CA).

The security firm explains that rogue security software has witnessed a considerable surge in popularity among black-market and grey-market businesses. Fake security software is an application that seems beneficial, but offers a deceitful marketing scheme. The software displays false infection results to the user, promising him to eliminate the infected files on being installed. It asserts of safeguarding the system, but it actually does the opposite.

As per CA's statistics, 1,186 new variants of rogue security software were detected by the firm in H1 2009, a 40% from H2 2008.

Notably, Google has been the most prominent and frequent target of cyber threats in 2009. To tamper search engine rankings and corrupt users' search results, attackers utilized search engine optimization technique (SEO) during the aforementioned period. As a result, users were directed to malicious websites, which resulted in the installation of malware on their computers.

Further, attacks on popular blogs, online communities and social media websites, such as MySpace, YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, were among the highly recognized trends in 2009, owing to the increasing popularity of these platforms. This is because in order to exploit vulnerable users, attackers employ social engineering ploys; and, these sites and communities open doors for them.

Don DeBolt, Director, Threat Research, Internet Security Business Unit, CA, said that attacking highly popular online destinations attracts highest profit, and hence cyber assailants have turned more serious towards attacking social networks, according to a statement published by cbronline.com on December 10, 2009.

The firm added that attacks on online credentials permitted cyber crooks to disseminate activities like sweeping FTP accounts for infecting Internet, harvesting e-mail addresses for spam bots and propagating social network worm, like Win32/Koobface, as reported by cbronline.com on December 10, 2009.

To conclude, the breakdown of malware distribution in 2009 highlights that it was dominated by the Internet at 78%, followed by e-mail (through attachments or phishing) at 17%, and share of removable media, like digital photo frames, USB drives, etc., at 5%.

Related article: RSA Attendees Responsible for Wireless Vulnerability

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