Cyber attacks evolve

Alex Kayle
By Alex Kayle, Senior portals journalist
Security Summit 2009, 26 May 2009

Over 12 million new Internet Protocol addresses became zombied during the first quarter of this year, meaning the computer systems came under the control of botnets.

This is according to Greg Day, McAfee principal analyst, who compares the IT landscape to a cyber tsunami.

Speaking today at the ITWeb Security Summit, being held at Vodaworld in Midrand, Day said the amount of Trojans (standalone programs that interfere with a system's processes), is increasing.

In addition, cyber criminals are selling online tools that allow anybody to easily design their own Trojans. Examples include downloadable Trojan creators called Shark and Pinch.

Getting creative

The majority of threats are coming from the cloud, says Day. “Criminals are becoming smarter and creating tools that allow even your grandmother to become a cyber criminal.”

Cyber criminals are targeting popular Web searches, looking for topical subject targets to use in get-rich-quick Web scams. Within the first 24 hours of the news of swine flu hitting the Internet, 5% of total global spam was related to swine flu, he notes.

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“We are starting to see the evolution of cyber criminal techniques. Social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, are being targeted. The credit crunch is a global problem and we're seeing social trickery being used, including phishing job, legal and financial services sites.”

Key to beating these malicious attacks, according to Day, is to have a common point of visibility to pull the information together and an integrated security strategy.

“It's easy for businesses to become lethargic,” he says. “Intellectual property is the commodity that cyber criminals are after and it's a multimillion-dollar industry that needs to be dealt with from a global perspective.”