With National Cybersecurity Awareness Month winding down, now is a good time to re-emphasize the threat that malicious code (malware) poses. Website owners of all sizes must protect themselves and their customers from these destructive or intrusive programs, which can destroy, compromise or steal sensitive data and inflict terrible financial costs on all victims.
Malware affects individuals and organizations of every size, from one-person operations to the largest global enterprises. But like calculating the distance between stars, the size of the federal budget deficit, or how many calories are in some fast food menu items, it’s hard to imagine how staggeringly large malware numbers are until you really look at them.
For example, Verizon’s 2010 Data Breach Investigations Report found that 97 percent of breaches in 2009, compromising 140 million records, used customized malware. The Symantec Internet Security Threat Report (ISTR) Volume 16 found that in 2010:
- More than 3 billion malware attacks occurred, involving more than 286 new million malware variants
- 64 percent of the top 50 malware samples targeted confidential information
- 92 percent of those threats to confidential information incorporated backdoors to hand remote control of victims’ systems to cybercriminals
- 56 percent of the top 50 malware were Trojans, putting website owners and visitors at high risk of sneak attacks from seemingly innocuous downloads
What makes these figures even scarier is that attacks are getting more common and diabolically clever every day. Cybercriminals are increasingly using more powerful and inexpensive attack rootkits that help malware evade detection so it can stay on computers longer. Social engineering and research can make it virtually impossible to tell real emails, web links and websites from fake ones just by looking at them.
The stakes are high: The 2010 Annual Study: U.S. Cost of a Data Breach report, co-sponsored by the Ponemon Institute and Symantec, found malicious or criminal website hacks:
- are the most expensive cause of data breaches, costing organizations on average $318 per compromised record
- comprise nearly a third (31 percent) of all data breaches
- grew 48 percent more costly and grew in frequency more than any other data breach cause compared to 2009
These figures are sobering reminders of how dire malware threats are today, and how website owners should proactively adopt malware scanning to better protect themselves and their customers.
To help reduce these risks, Symantec SSL brands feature malware scanning, a cost effective cloud service that helps ensure website owners and visitors alike are exposed to hidden malware for as brief a time as possible. This new security service from Symantec complements IT security best practices that include frequent, rapid and automatic updates of malware detection and prevention systems.
With the threat landscape evolving constantly, website owners need to stay on the leading edge of security to ensure their sites are clean and their customers protected from malware. Check out this video to find out more.