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Attempted hacks on the increase

According to Kaspersky Lab, the number of attempts to hack user’s computers has this year increased by 26.8%. This increase was determined when comparing the first quarter of 2009 to this year’s.

Kaspersky Lab has reported that over 327 million attempts were made to infect users’ computers in different countries around the world during the first three months of 2010. This is a 26.8% rise on the previous quarter. The development of cybercrime is being fuelled by the spread of the Internet itself combined with ineffective legislation and growing unemployment.

The geographical distribution of malicious attacks is constantly changing. In the last quarter of 2009 the top three targets were China (31.07%), Russia (9.82%) and India (6.19%). In the first quarter of 2010 those countries remained unchanged. However, the number of attacks against Chinese users fell dramatically to 18.05%, whilst those against Russian users rose to 13.18%.

The two main channels by which these threats proliferate remain the Internet and drive-by downloads. Today’s Internet is awash with malware strains composed of HTML code or scripts that are then placed on legitimate websites. The primary objective of these programs is to covertly redirect users to a malicious website that contains exploits. Cybercriminals also openly lure Internet users to infected websites by distributing links to websites purportedly offering information or goods and services that they know will be of interest to the user.

Key to these types of attacks is that the exploits are used to take advantage of different vulnerabilities in browsers and plug-ins, as well as PDF viewers. The total number of exploits of this type increased by 21.3%, with nearly half of them targeting vulnerabilities in Adobe programs due to Adobe’s prevalence and multi-platform capabilities.

The introduction of stricter laws and an increased focus on cybercrime has forced the cybercriminals to conceal their activities. The result is a rise in the number of Trojans as malware of this type is capable of being disguised as a genuine application and can remain undetected whilst using legitimate software for its own purposes. At the end of the quarter Trojans accounted for 21.46% of all threats detected on user computers. Adware came second in terms of prevalence.

One striking trend has been observed recently: existing malicious programs are now being updated and made more complex. Established hacker groups are constantly working to perfect their creations and strive to make them more universal and suitable for attacks targeting both home and corporate users.

Fake antivirus programs also continue to develop and have flooded the Internet over the past year. The creators of such malware use a variety of techniques in order to trick users, such as copying the interfaces of popular security solutions, including Kaspersky Lab’s products. More and more frequently we are seeing the emergence of fake antivirus programs supposedly offering ‚technical support’ services too.

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