IT threats in 2006

The year that is just coming to an end has marked a turning point with respect to Internet threats. The last 12 months have been notable for the absence of the kind of massive virus epidemics caused by malicious code such as LoveLetter, Sasser or Blaster. On the other hand, for some months now there has been tremendous activity with respect to new threats, and it is fair to say that there has never been a greater probability of suffering an IT attack than there is at present. Even though these situations may appear contradictory, they are not. The situation is actually the result of a change in the motivation of the creators of Internet threats; whereas before personal “glory’ was the driving force, today’s goal is simply money.

With this in mind, it is likely that in 2006 threats designed to obtain financial returns will be the most prolific, and users should therefore pay special attention to these kinds of threats. Such threats include:

– Backdoor Trojans: These allow backdoors to be opened in computers through which the system can be controlled remotely. This could allow, among other things, theft of confidential data, installation of malicious code or attack on other computers.

– Keylogger Trojans: These can register the keystrokes made on a computer. They are frequently used to collect users’ bank details.

– Bot Trojans and worms, which allow other types of malware to be downloaded or can turn computers into spam-generating zombies.

– Spyware, generating financial returns through the sale of data about users’ Internet habits.

– Phishing y pharming, two online fraud techniques becoming ever more widespread.

Nevertheless, the threats we will encounter next year are likely to be more sophisticated and complex than the current examples. This could be particularly relevant with respect to phishing, which instead of relying solely on email messages will probably start using other malicious code such as Trojans.

On the other hand, and given their lucrative nature, targeted attacks (those using malicious code created specifically for attacking certain users) are likely to intensify.

In any event, whatever the type of threat, the creators will be keen to ensure they go unnoticed by security companies and users alike. This will ensure that they can operate maliciously for a considerable time. It is predictable then, that the activity of Internet threats will continue to increase notably, yet we are not likely to see too many epidemics.

According to Luis Corrons, “Silent threats are liable to be the main malicious players of 2006, installing themselves and acting without users being aware of their presence. For this reason, reactive antivirus products that need updating to combat Internet threats will no longer be sufficient. Users will need proactive technologies which can block new malicious code without the need for updates, but by analyzing their behavior.”