Study Shows the Complexity of Malware Attacks

Sue Marquette Poremba

Today, I received an email alerting me to a new malware called CowerSnail, a backdoor trojan targeting Windows. Last week, I got an email alerting me to new malware called OSX/Dok, which targets Mac OS. It’s not unusual for me to get two or three warnings a week regarding a new malware attack.

With that in mind, I wasn’t surprised by the results of Comodo’s latest report. The Q2 report on malware detection revealed 97 million incidents in that three-month period. Okay, I’m wrong; I am surprised – surprised that I’m only receiving malware-related alerts a couple of times a week. With numbers like 97 million, that amount should be much higher!

According to Comodo’s blog post on the report, the malware we see tends to fluctuate:

In Q2, Comodo detected 5.8 million trojans, 4.5 million worms, 2.6 million viruses, and 209,000 backdoors. At the start of Q2, the world saw a sharp rise in worm propagation, chiefly in Asia, as attackers took advantage of networks using older, unpatched, and perhaps unlicensed software. However, by the end of Q2, trojans and worms had regained their status as the world’s first- and second-most common malware types.


The U.S. had the most dramatic swings in malware attacks, with the worst week coming during the week of May 8. Most of the attacks, the report added, were trojans.

That isn’t surprising, considering the report found that backdoor trojans tend to affect more affluent countries and the attacks are usually well-targeted campaigns. On the other hand, worms tend to hit countries with poor cybersecurity and lesser protected networks.

No wonder it is difficult to provide the right security to prevent malware attacks. We don’t always know what’s going to hit us. This is why, Michael Patterson, CEO of Plixer, told me in an email comment, we’re facing a difficult truth about cybersecurity. We simply cannot stop all malware, especially when they are targeted attacks. But we can take steps to do a better job at protecting networks and data, Patterson added:

To improve a company’s security posture, C-level managers need to make some tough decisions. They need to completely control what applications are allowed on any device that attaches to the corporate network. Once in force, it becomes much easier for security teams to monitor for unwanted communication patterns. By taking a baseline of what is normal, security teams can uncover abnormal behaviors caused by malware much more easily.

Sue Marquette Poremba has been writing about network security since 2008. In addition to her coverage of security issues for IT Business Edge, her security articles have been published at various sites such as Forbes, Midsize Insider and Tom's Guide. You can reach Sue via Twitter: @sueporemba


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