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Attacks on IM, P2P & Chat Increased in 2007

New statistics released on January 11, 2008 found five different Instant Message (IM) and peer-to-peer (P2P) virus attacks on the network of enterprise in a single day in 2007. Around 1,088 incidents of virus attacks on IM, chat vectors and P2P were recorded in 2007.

In IM category itself, 19% threats were recorded on AOL Instant Messenger network, 45% threats were reported on MSN Messenger, 20% were on Yahoo! Messenger and remaining 15% threats were reported on other Instant Messenger networks like Jabber-based private networks, as per the IM security specialist of FaceTime Security Labs. There is phenomenal increase in attacks (more than double) on the private networks since 2003, increasing from 7% of total IM attacks to 15% last year (2007).

Non-IM vectors are used increasingly to spread viruses, which means that Internet Relay Chat (IRC) is not safe an option too. There was 14% rise of virus attack through IRC during 2006-07. Attacks on websites such as MySpace also increased last year.

As per the IM security specialist at FaceTime Security Labs, unregulated use of greynets on the enterprise networks has increased significantly over the last year. It includes Real-Time Always-On Application along with IM and web conferencing among others.

Similarly, GreynetsGuide, a FaceTime-managed website, found that majority of organizations run from 8 to 10 greynets in their network and together with growing usage of employees, it can raise the exposure to viruses targeting chat, P2P, and IM increasingly.

Frank Cabri, Vice President of marketing and product management, FaceTime, said that increasing popularity of social networking websites is catching attention of bad people. As a result, there is huge increase in malicious activities, reported by REUTERS in second week of January 2008.

The researches at FaceTime found increasing use of social engineering to spread threats over Skype and IM networks. They also found that threats are rising across social networking websites like MySpace.

The security experts forecasted that the number of greynets would rise this year. As per the predictions, the number would go from current 600 to 1000 by 2008 end.

Frank Cabri suggested to IT managers worldwide that they use only approved applications and obstruct the use of non approved applications, as reported by ITPRO on January 11, 2008.

Related article: Attacks On IM And Chinese malware On The Rise

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