Kaspersky Labs, the anti-virus software development company, has recently released its malware report titled, "Kaspersky Security Bulletin: Malware evolution 2008." For malware developers, 2008 was a very profitable year and the Kaspersky report confirmed it. The top four security trends in 2008: rootkits, gaming malware, attacks on social networking sites, and malicious programs against networks in general.
Who is leading the development of malware? China is the indisputable leader. However, Russia, Brazil, Turkey and the Ukraine have all written their fair share of malicious code in 2008.
Last year saw a large increase in the use of rootkits. Rustock.c was one of the more notable infections. You may remember this thorn-in-the-side as the rootkit that infected the system file. It was very difficult to remove.
Kaspersky reported that gaming Trojans have surpassed Trojans used to attack financial institutions. The increase in gaming Trojans had a nasty outcome: botnets. I don't think that anyone could argue with the fact that 2008 saw a tremendous increase in botnet activity. Last year there were 100,397 new gaming Trojans. That was a three-fold increase over 2007. Some of the more popular games attacked were World of Warcraft, Lineage, Lineage 2, Funtown and Zheng Tu.
As social networking sites have become very popular, so have ways to attack them. Experts estimate that by the end of 2009, more than one billion people will use social networking sites. Kaspersky estimated that by the end of 2008, there were more than 43,000 malicious programs targeting social networking sites. The top sites targeted by malware developers included Orkut, Myspace and Facebook.
Finally, network attacks in general rounded out the list. These included attacks such as DDNS, Bonets and DDos. What does 2009 look like? If Alfred Hitchcock were alive, I have no doubt that he would have a field day. Kaspersky estimates that we will see global epidemics, and outbreaks that will continue to infect millions of PCs will be the norm. There will be a decrease in gaming Trojans due to the economic downturn. Malware 2.0 will evolve to Malware 2.5 and include a "migrating botnet" that uses cryptographic algorithms for communication. Phishing and spam will remain popular because they are now low-tech and cheaper to launch. Finally, malware developers will develop for more non-Windows platforms because their market share is on the rise.