Lavasoft News - October 2006

Scary Spyware Trends

It used to be that when you thought of cyber crime you imagined a teenager sitting at his computer in his basement trying to hack into some government agency. And he just wanted to make a name for himself.

Those days are gone. Cyber crime is becoming more organized, according to top U.S. officials.

"There has been a change in the people who attack computer networks, away from the 'bragging hacker' toward those driven by monetary motives," Christopher Painter, with the Department of Justice Computer Crime section, told Reuters. "There are still instances of these 'lone-gunman' hackers but more and more we are seeing organized criminal groups, groups that are often organized online targeting victims via the Internet."

The real danger today lies in what are called "anonymous virtual interlopers". They focus on identification theft, illegal use of bank and credit cards and creating Botnet armies that can hijack hundreds or thousands of computers in an effort to infect other systems.

Profiting from these scams seems to be the name of the game now. Several recently released industry reports have found that malware creators are making money from their code and are therefore creating increasing numbers of sophisticated Trojans and bots.

One recent criminal indictment alleged a convicted bot-herder, Jeanson James Ancheta, received $150 for each of 1,000 infected computers.

Cyber crime is a big business. The FBI (American Federal Bureau of Investigation) estimates that computer crime in general in the U.S. costs industry about $400 billion. In Britain the Department of Trade and Industry said computer crime had jumped by 50 percent in the last two years alone.

And industry analysts expect the problem to only get worse. Gartner researchers expect spyware to infect up to 50 percent of companies in the next two years.

The question is no longer if you'll be affected, but when.

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Stats
Spyware infections prompted almost one million U.S. households to replace their computers in the first half of 2006.
-Consumer Reports, State of the Net 2006

The total loss from all cases of fraud referred to the FBI's Internet Crime Complaint Center in 2005 was $183.12 million, with an average loss of $424 per complaint. This is up from $68 million in total losses a year earlier.
-FBI IC3

This month's issue of Lavasoft News is being read by... drum roll please... 872,054 people.
Worm Graphic
Term of the Month
WORM - Did you know that WORM is an acronym for "write once, read many"? A computer worm is a self-replicating computer program, similar to a computer virus. Unlike viruses, however, worms self-propagate and so do not require other programs or documents to spread. Worms typically spread through e-mail or other file transmission capabilities found on networked computers.
 
Real Testimonial
Thanks for removing "VirusBurst" on my PC. I tried several ways to get rid of that low-down nag. Spybot had detected it, but wasn't able to kill it. HijackThis removed it - and it was still there. The next day there was an update for Ad-Aware. After this it was that easy!! No spyware, no virus. Good work. I appreciate your reliability.
R. Busch, Berlin, Germany, 25/09/06
 
Adware Trends
A new report by an online security vendor shows that in August 2006, there were roughly 450 "adware families", with more than 4,000 variants.
    Industry experts say that as the amount of new viruses and worms drop off, criminal malware is given room to rise. Spyware, Trojans and phishing are the cyber-crime of choice in 2006.
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