Malware Infections Dominated by Data Stealing Trojans

Anthony Freed
By | December 04, 2012

Posted in: Network Security Trends

Malware developers are in the business of making money from their illicit creations, and the targeting of the confidential and proprietary information that is the core asset of the enterprise continues to be their prime target, analysis of infection agents for the third quarter of 2012 reveals. According to a new report from Panda Security's anti-malware researchers, Trojans designed to exfiltrate valuable corporate and personal data that can be sold on the black market made up a whopping 72.58% of all new malware samples detected.

“It is obvious that malware writers have standardized their infection techniques, as what we have seen in Q3 is a continuation of the trends we saw over the first half of the year. Trojans once again have accounted for almost 80 percent of infections, and continue to be the preferred category for cyber-criminals to carry out information theft. All this confirms cyber-crooks’ first objective: to make money from their creations,” said technical director for PandaLabs Luis Corrons.

Viruses, once the favorite mode of infection for cybercriminals until recent years, made up only 14.47% of the newly detected malware samples, with worms following up in third place at 10.53%, according to the findings.

The terms for these different families of malware are often used interchangeably, but they are really different agents with specific missions defined in their makeup. So what's the difference between them? Viruses tend to make unauthorized systemic changes to how an infected device operates, while a worm is more often designed to exploit vulnerabilities within a network to accomplish various tasks, and both tend to have a negative impact on performance.

Trojans, on the other hand, are specifically designed to appear as being harmless applications which run along side other programs, and are usually crafted to pilfer data or allow an attacker remote access to a system.

The Q3 report revealed that an estimated 30.68% of all PCs across the globe are at any given time infected with some form of malware or another, with China continuing to show the highest level of infections per country at 53.17%. China is followed by South Korea with an infection rate of 52.77%, while the rest of the top ten infection list was distributed across nearly every region of the world. The countries with the lowest infections rates are Ireland with only 20%, Norway  at 20.16 %, and Sweden  with 22.46%.

“The list of least infected countries is dominated by some of the world’s most technologically advanced nations. This is due to the fact that these countries are more aware of the importance of the fight against cyber-crime and are more willing to take the measures necessary to stop infections,” Corrons explained.

The best prevention measures include maintaining up to date antivirus and firewall software, as well as being vigilant about keeping operating systems, browsers, and applications current.

The quarterly malware report, which also includes information on some high profile targeted attacks and the continued rise in attacks on mobile devices, can be downloaded from PandaLabs here.

You May Also Be Interested In: