Spyware Threat Set To Top “Most Wanted List’

London, January 10 2006, A 265 per cent increase in the volume of Spyware and Adware during the second half of 2005, is pushing them rapidly towards the top of the “most dangerous threats’ rankings. Leading web security firm, ScanSafe has seen a huge rise in the average number of Spyware and Adware blocks per client for the second half of 2005 – from 2,280 in August to 8,320 in November – according to its latest Web Security Report (July to December 2005).

Enterprise security professionals already rank Spyware as the second greatest threat to network security, according to IDC’s Enterprise Security Survey 2005, and ScanSafe is predicting that the Spyware problem will become more prolific and damaging if it goes unchecked.

“With Spyware figures roughly doubling every month, which is what we’ve seen over the last four months, we can expect to see things get worse before they get better,” according to ScanSafe CEO Eldar Tuvey. “It was a similar pattern for spam, where companies were being bombarded with spam emails before the problem was tackled successfully. But while companies have tackled threats like spam through managed services, they need to adopt similar Internet level scanning techniques for the web.”

ScanSafe’s Web Report also highlights the way Spyware is becoming increasingly stealthy – developed by “highly skilled, well funded creators with a powerful financial motive’.

In 2004, the Spyware industry earned over $2 billion[1] through the distribution and installation of applications, designed to be downloaded unwittingly onto users’ computers, so they can monitor activity such as the detection of passwords, credit card details and other confidential information, and pass these back to the creator.

“Known as Spyware “calling home’, this ability for a malicious application to make contact with the host server and report back on usage patterns or send confidential information is why the Spyware industry is making so much money,” according to ScanSafe’s Tuvey. “We’ve seen an increase of 214 per cent in Spyware “calling home’ as a percentage of total blocks – and we’re likely to see this figure rise even further over the coming months.”

Other highlights:

The following figures are taken from ScanSafe’s Web Security Report for the second half of 2005 (July to December 2005). ScanSafe’s Threat Centre and web security experts analyse over 3 billion web requests every month. Key areas include Web usage and security, Web virus infection, and emerging Web threats:

§ Web viruses – Scansafe has seen a 165 per cent increase in new Web viruses in 2005 compared to 2004 – the number of new viruses detected has sharply increased from 538 in 2004 to 1,185 during the first 10 months of 2005 (with 1,423 new Web viruses forecast for whole of 2005).

§ Web browser vulnerabilities – continually emerging as attackers focus on the Web as an area of network vulnerability. Protection of the Web by companies is weaker relative to email, network and desktop security. Areas of concern are: the emergence of vulnerabilities in Microsoft Internet Explorer; the administrative struggle to update patches in browser software; and advent of “zero day’ exploits.

§ Web filtering – ScanSafe has seen a significant trend in Web filtering, with blocks per user in the “chat’ category increasing dramatically in recent months, from an average of 100 blocks per user in June to over 700 in November. The chat category includes chat sites/rooms as well as Web Messengers. Companies are increasingly banning chat as its popularity increases among employees as they have no tools to manage it and monitor it effectively.

§ Migration to new communications tools – as phishing and spam affect email, employees are migrating to other forms of workplace communications tools, including Instant Messaging (IM) which will have an impact on web security.

§ Popularity of RSS (Really Simple Syndication) – poses a growing security threat – people are starting to use RSS feeds to pull updated content via HTTP and XML rather than being pushed to them by SMTP. With this trend expected to increase in 2006, malicious code writers can take advantage by hijacking existing feed clients, causing automatic downloads of new worms and other web threats.

About ScanSafe

Formed in 1999, ScanSafe is the world’s first provider of managed Internet level web security. Powered by proactive heuristics technology Outbreak Intelligenceâ„?, ScanSafe provides a comprehensive suite of web security services that guarantee high performance, best-of-breed protection. Its managed services screen the Web when users surf, keeping it safe and productive. Viruses, malware and spyware are blocked before they reach the network and web access policies are enforced.

ScanSafe currently scans three billion web requests each month blocking 2 million threats on behalf of customers such as Rothschilds, Conde Nast and BMW.

Since pioneering the market for managed web security, ScanSafe has maintained its global leadership and it continues to lead the direction of the market through innovation. The company services customers in Europe, US and Asia and has offices in London, UK and San Mateo, California.

ScanSafe is privately owned, and financed by Benchmark Capital. Recent awards include winner of Red Herring Top 100 European Technology companies of 2005.

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