Friday, January 29, 2010

Cybercriminals set to make record profits in 2010

Avira predicts more attacks on PCs belonging to private and professional users, as fraudsters focus on easy ways to make money

Tettnang, 29 January 2010 – Avira predicts that 2010 will see a further intensification of the threat to computers. This is associated with increasing professionalism among data thieves. Thus, the IT security expert expects that “crime-as-a-service”, in other words the professional offer of illegal applications and computer attacks as a service, will rise significantly.

That’s why future threats are focusing particular attention on data that hackers can put to illegal commercial use or convert into cash. These include, for example, the stealing of credit card and account data or passwords for a wide variety of Internet services. In addition, confidential corporate information is of particular interest to cybercriminals. In order to protect oneself from the ever-increasing threats, a combination of current virus protection and a watchful eye on the part of the computer user are essential.

The growing threats in the year 2010

  • Increased activity in the area of commercial and industrial espionage
  • Sharp rise in “data-napping” and extortion
  • Major attacks on social media networks and instant messaging services

Targeting private users

Avira assumes that new generations of malware will be programmed with greater sophistication so as to remain undetected for as long as possible, thereby achieving the greatest benefit to data thieves. More Spam is to be expected when data traffic levels are heaviest and users can be easily enticed to visit other sites – via instant messaging platforms like Skype, ICQ or Yahoo Chat. Known scareware like “Fake AV” (or “Rogue AV”, “Rogue Security Products”) will become more aggressive. This software fools the user into believing his system has been infected and offers costly virus protection to combat the problem. However, what the user actually purchases and downloads is a useless tool that, in addition to financial fraud, can also cause further damage to the computer itself. The growing threats also include drive-by downloads: In this case, apparently legal banners are manipulated and placed on familiar websites such as message portals. If a user visits an Internet site prepared in this way, there is a risk that PCs will be infected with this malware. The shortened URLs, which are so popular on social media networks, are increasingly misused to conceal the identity of damaging links. The threat particularly applies to much-frequented websites like Facebook, studiVZ or Twitter because of their continuously growing number of users and their intensive communication patterns.

Risks for businesses

Avira expects that 2010 will see a further increase in organized commercial and industrial espionage via the Internet. Accordingly, a rapid increase is expected in professional and targeted espionage attacks on corporate data from criminal gangs. Avira predicts a sharp rise in attacks on small and medium-sized businesses in particular in the coming months. Many of the dangers are already known to anti-virus experts:

Ransomware aims to seize control of the entire PC and to encrypt the data on the hard disk. The culprit offers to release your machine again on receipt of payment. The BSI advises against paying such demands as there is no certainty that the data will be released after the payment has been made.

Botnets consisting of PC zombies launch DDoS attacks (Distributed Denial of Service) and use this scatter-gun tactic to disable a business’ systems unless a ransom demand is satisfied. Data thieves are also becoming more interested in data stored in “clouds”. The increased use of mobile devices and phones also poses a threat of attack and data loss and must therefore remain a central concern for IT risk management.

Avira makes it easier to handle viruses

Despite the serious threat, private individuals and companies with up-to-date virus protection can protect themselves effectively against malware, thanks to the expertise available from Avira.
“We use our long-established specialization in combating viruses to help detect and deflect threats at an early stage using proactive mechanisms,” explains Travis Witteveen, Head of Sales and Marketing at Avira. “Our anti-virus solutions offer users maximum protection, making it easy for them to deal with harmful software. Additional features such as Parental Control, which screens out material that is unsuitable for children, makes surfing the Internet an even safer business.”

About Avira

More than 100 million consumers and small businesses depend upon Avira’s security expertise and award-winning antivirus software, making the company the number-two market share leader globally. Avira is ranked #1 in technology innovation according to ABI Research; recommended by Consumer Reports for its free antivirus software; cited by OPSWAT as the #1 fastest-growing antivirus vendor in 2012 and the #2 largest vendor worldwide in 2011; and has received a nearly unbroken string of Virus Bulletin VB100 awards for the past decade.

Avira provides IT-security protection to computers, smartphones, servers and networks, delivered as both software and cloud-based services. Visit www.avira.com.