New virus attacks growing at an alarming rate

The rate which new viruses are being developed has many online security companies and analysts concerned. According to Kaspersky Lab’s Stefan Tanase, more and more viruses are being developed every day.

Kaspersky Lab’s Stefan Tanase, senior security researcher for Kaspersky Lab’s Global Research and Analysis team (image: Charlie Fripp)

“In 1994 there was one new virus every hour, 2006 saw one new virus every minute, while 2011 saw one new virus every second. That’s 70 000 new viruses every day. Kaspersky currently processes 125 000 viruses on a daily basis, and the human factor are cyber criminals on social networks that make use of social engineering,” said Tanase, a senior security researcher for Kaspersky Lab’s Global Research and Analysis team, during Kaspersky Lab’s annual Security Summit.

The largest problems regarding viruses are that users are making use of pirate software. “Mass infections are happening due to technical factors, and users are to blame by using pirate software. Out of the Top 20 vulnerabilities, the Top 17 are free software, while one in three users run a vulnerable Java program (42%), 33% use a vulnerable Flash player, and 20% use VLC. Android and iOS have never been more targeted than they are today,” he said.

Tanase also stressed that mobile phones are a huge risk for viruses and malware. Between 2004 and 2010, 1 160 mobile malware samples were discovered, while in December of 2011 alone, 2 137 new mobile malware samples discovered.

“Smartphones contain a number of interesting data that malware targets and are becoming more like classic PCs. Mobile Malware capabilities include SMS Trojans, where users get infected by ‘good’ friends, targeted email, IM and SMS, and apps from untrusted sources (free apps and pirated apps). We recommend that users stick to the trusted sources such as Google Play and Apple’s App Store.”

Many users of Apple’s iPad have had their devices jailbroken, which allows them to download and install apps from untrusted sources. Tanase said while the people behind Jailbreak are not doing anything wrong, they are opening the door for malicious software.

Jailbreak makes use of a vulnerability within Apple’s iOS systemto allow users to download apps that come from different sources, other than Apple’s official App Store.

“Jailbreak isn’t doing anything wrong in terms of malware and there are some good people working there, but the same vulnerability can just as easily be exploited by cybercriminals, as Jailbreak exploits a vulnerability in the iOS,” he concluded.

Charlie Fripp – Consumer Tech editor