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IT security firm warns of new types of malware network

Veronica C. Silva | July 22, 2011
Web-based malware have become 'dynamic' that it is getting more challenging to protect users, says Blue Coat Systems.

New types of Web-based malware are making it more challenging for IT security experts to protect every user connected to the network. This is one of the characteristics of the new threats to IT security, according to the 2011 Mid-Year Web Security Report of Blue Coat Systems.

The IT security company recently released its mid-term report which identified the 10 largest malware delivery networks. These types of malware are "typically hosted across multiple sites and are responsible for launching dynamic attacks on unsuspecting users".

Their very nature makes it a challenge to IT security experts given the number of user devices they affect and the great number of attacks they can do in a single day.

"Web-based malware has become so dynamic that it is nearly impossible to protect every user from every new attack with traditional defences," said Steve Daheb, chief marketing officer and senior vice president, Blue Coat Systems.

The first half of 2011 saw Shnakule as the leading malware delivery network, both by size and effectiveness. Shnakule is a broad-based malware delivery network whose malicious activities include drive-by downloads, fake anti-virus and codecs, fake flash and Firefox updates, fake warez, and botnet/command and controls.  The network malware also includes activities related to pornography, gambling, pharmaceuticals, link farming, and work-at-home scams.

Point of attack  

On average, the network malware had 2,000 unique host names per day with a peak of more than 4,300 per day. 

"Not only is Shnakule far reaching as a standalone malware delivery network, it also contains many large component malware delivery networks," said Blue Coat. "Ishabor, Kulerib, Rabricote and Albircpana, which all appear on the top 10 list of largest malware delivery networks, are actually components of Shnakule and extend its malicious activities to gambling-themed malware and suspicious link farming."

And these types of malware know where to hit. Given the popularity search engines and portals, "search engine poisoning" was the most popular way for the malware to attack. "In nearly 40 percent of all malware incidents, search engines/portals were the entry point into malware delivery networks," the Blue Coat report stated.

Another entry point is through social networks, which are another type of popular sites to visit on the Internet.  Social networking was the fifth most popular entry point into malware delivery networks and the third most requested content, noted Blue Coat.

Malware also attack through online storage and software downloads. But searching for images and pirated media also ranks at the top of the list for possible malware delivery, and users engaging in these activities are especially vulnerable. 


No matter how challenging, a little amount of protection can go a long way.


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