CUPERTINO, Calif. – April 8, 2008 – The latest Internet Security Threat Report (ISTR), Volume XIII released today by Symantec Corp. (Nasdaq: SYMC) concludes that the Web is now the primary conduit of attack activity, as opposed to network attacks, and that online users can increasingly be infected simply by visiting everyday Web sites. The report is derived from data collected by millions of Internet sensors, first-hand research and active monitoring of hacker communications and provides a global view of the state of Internet security.
In the past, users had to visit intentionally malicious sites or click on malicious email attachments to become a victim of a security threat. Today, hackers are compromising legitimate Web sites and using them as a distribution medium to attack home and enterprise computers. Symantec noticed that attackers are particularly targeting sites that are likely to be trusted by end users, such as social networking sites.
Attackers are leveraging site-specific vulnerabilities that can then be used as a means for launching other attacks. During the last six months of 2007, there were 11,253 site specific cross-site scripting vulnerabilities reported on the Internet; these represent vulnerabilities in individual Web sites. However, only 473 (about 4 percent) of them had been patched by the administrator of the affected Web site during the same period, representing an enormous window of opportunity for hackers looking to launch attacks.
Phishing also continues to be a problem. In the last six months of 2007, Symantec observed 87,963 phishing hosts – computers that can host one or more phishing Web sites. This is an increase of 167 percent from the first half of 2007. Eighty percent of brands targeted by phishing attacks during the study period were in the financial sector.
Finally, attackers are leveraging a maturing underground economy to buy, sell and trade stolen information. This economy is now characterized by a number of traits common in traditional economies. For example, market forces of supply and demand have a direct impact on pricing. Credit card information, which has become plentiful in this environment, accounted for 13 percent of all advertised goods — down from 22 percent in the previous period and sold for as low as $0.40. The price of a credit card in this underground market is determined by factors such as the location of the issuing bank. Credit cards from the European Union, for example, cost more than those from the United States; this is most likely due to the smaller supply of cards circulating in the E.U which makes the card more valuable to a criminal. Bank account credentials have become the most frequently advertised item making up 22 percent of all goods and selling for as little as $10.
ADDITIONAL KEY FINDINGS
To find out more about threats facing today’s Internet users, visit the following resources:
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