McAfee report outlines evolving threat landscape

Security vendor McAfee released its McAfee Threats Report: Fourth Quarter 2012 this week, reporting that sophisticated attacks originally targeting the financial services industry are now hitting other critical sectors of the economy.

“We are seeing attacks shifting into a variety of new areas, from factories, to corporations, to government agencies, to the infrastructure that connects them together,” said Vincent Weafer, senior vice-president of McAfee Labs, in a statement. “This represents a new chapter in cybersecurity in that threat-development, driven by the lure of financial industry profits, has created a growing underground market for these cybercrime weapons, as well as creative new approaches to thwarting security measures common across industries.”

Among the report’s other observations:

* Unique password-stealing trojans grew 72 per cent in Q4 as cybercriminals targeted user authentication credentials. These trojans are increasingly appearing within customized threats or combined with other “off-the-shelf” threats available on the Internet.

* Suspicious URLs are replacing botnets as the primary distribution mechanism for malware, with the number of new suspicious URLs up by 70 per cent in Q4. New suspect URLs averaged 4.6 million per month, and 95 per cent of them were found to be hosting malware, exploits or code designed specifically to compromise computers.

* The volume of Master Boot Record (MBR)-related malware climbed 27 per cent. These threats embed themselves deep within the PC system storage stack, where standard antivirus solutions can’t detect them.


Android still dominates mobile malware. (McAfee graphic)

Source | McAfee Threats Report (PDF)


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