Panda forecasts 2009’s major IT threats

pandalabs_security.jpgPanda Security, the global IT security vendor, has predicted a continuing increase in the amount of malware (viruses, worms, Trojans, etc.) in circulation in 2009. Between January and August 2008, Panda Security’s laboratory had detected as many malware strains as in the previous 17 years combined, and this trend is expected to continue or even grow in 2009.

Banker Trojans and fake anti-viruses will be the most prevalent malware types in 2009. Banker Trojans are designed to steal login passwords for banking services, account numbers, etc., while fake anti-viruses try to pass themselves off as real antivirus products to convince targeted users they have been infected by malicious codes. Victims are then prompted to buy the rogue antivirus to remove these bogus infections. Cyber-crooks are currently profiting substantially from this type of fraud.

As for methods of malware distribution, Panda has predicted an increased use of social networks, not only by worms trying to spread from one user to another, but by malicious code designed to carry out more dangerous actions like theft of confidential data.

Similarly, malware distribution through SQL injection attacks will continue to rise. This type of attack infects users that visit certain Web pages without them even realising. To do this, cyber-crooks exploit vulnerabilities on the servers that host these pages.

“A technique that will certainly become popular in 2009 will be the use of customized packers and obfuscators,” says Jeremy Matthews, head of Panda Security’s sub-Saharan operations. “These tools are used to compress malware and make detection more difficult. Cyber-criminals will try to avoid the standard tools available in forums, websites, etc., and turn to their own obfuscators in an attempt to evade ‘signature-based’ detection by security solutions.”

The use of detection technologies such as Panda Security’s Collective Intelligence, can detect even the lowest-levels of attacks and the newest malware techniques, which will make cyber-crooks turn to old codes, adapted to new needs. But instead of viruses being designed to prevent systems from working or files from being opened, as they did ten years ago, they will rather be aimed at hiding Trojans used for theft of banking information.