Symantec Report Shows an Increase in Malicious Activity

Ralph DeFrangesco

Symantec, the anti-virus vendor, released the Symantec Internet Security Threat Report. The report finds that malicious activity continues to grow at an alarming rate. Highlights from the report show that Symantec created 1.6 million new code signatures in2008 -- roughly 60 percent of the total signatures ever created by Symantec. According to Symantec, these signatures helped block 245 million malicious code attacks around the world each month during 2008, an amazing number.


What I found interesting about the report is that Symantec stated that according to its sources, there is a well-organized underground economy that continues to make money using stolen credit cards, personal information and financial data taken off users' computers.


In addition, even though authorities were able to shut down several large botnets, which put a major dent in botnet activity, criminals were able to find alternative hosting facilities and continue with illegal activities.


The report collected data from January to December 2008. It shows that Web surfing was the primary source of all new infections. Sixty-three percent of vulnerabilities affected Web applications, up from 59 percent in 2007. There were 12,855 cross-site script vulnerabilities reported in 2008; only 3 percent were reported fixed.


I don't put a lot of stock into a report created by a software vendor about its own products and services. However, if only a fraction of the information is true, it's alarming. I have to admit that this report took a little wind out of my sails. We as IT security professionals put a lot of work into protecting assets. It's very difficult to stay ahead of the hackers today. This report makes me feel like I am winning battles but losing the overall war. If I drank, I would crack open a beer, but I think I'll update my anti-virus software instead. It will make me feel better and I won't wake up with a hangover.

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