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2012 is the year of malware, reports security experts Sophos

As the year draws to a close, the annual round ups are coming thick and fast and in the bad news column we can name 2012 the ‘year of malware’ according to cyber security experts Sophos. It’s also the year that hackers followed the browsing world onto social media.

Sophos reckons that 80% of hacking attacks online were enabled by malicious code inserted into legitimate sites. And as the world goes social, the bad guys are following closely behind. The rise of new platforms and languages is making maintaining security more complex.

Hackers have always been inventive, and social media offers a great new way to test out their skills. One clever way to exploit our worries about social media saw hackers setting up a Twitter account. Once the account has some followers the criminals send a direct message to them all warning them that an embarrassing photo of them has been posted to Facebook. Click the link and you’re infected.

It’s not just clever psychology though; hackers now have their own products. Blackhole is a software package made in Russia, which helps its owners produce their own malware. It’s frighteningly easy to use – all you need is a website that you can convince people to visit and Blackhole does the rest. It’s so popular that 27% of the all the malware is believed to come from Blackhole. Worryingly, the sellers of these ‘crime packs’ have promised customers they’re going to be trying even harder next year.

Internationally, Honk Kong, Taiwan and the UAE suffer most cyber attacks, while the safest countries are Sweden, Japan and Norway.

Platform wise, Android is becoming an increasing target for hackers. And, the Apple user’s boast that their machine never gets viruses may be about to be silenced, sales are growing and the hackers are starting to wake up to Macs too.

Governments and terrorists are also developing their online weaponry and the spectre of a ‘cyber 9/11’ is being raised.

However, there is some good news. Sophos says IT professionals are getting smarter too and praises law enforcement agencies for some major victories in 2012.

The next challenges, says Sophos, will come as cloud computing comes of age. As surely as night follows day, the hackers will target the cloud too. 

You can read the report in full here.


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