Research reveals an increasingly complex and global security landscape

FaceTime Communications reports that security incidents targeting public IM and P2P channels rose 6 percent from the previous quarter and the complexity of these incidents continues to increase, especially in the form of globalized malware.

Patterns in the research indicate two peaks in each year, in the spring and fall, followed by lulls in the winter and summer. Based on the previous moving averages, researchers expect an increase in incidents for the next two months, followed by a slightly lower incident rate beginning in the summer.

“The cyclical pattern indicates that the market has matured, with high penetration of IM in the enterprise and a steady cadre of attackers aiming at IM, P2P and chat,” said Frank Cabri, vice president of marketing for FaceTime Communications. “The maturity can also be seen in the increasing complexity and globalization of threats.”

Additional key findings in the report include:

” On average, researchers recorded approximately five incidents per day in the first quarter of 2007.

” Single-channel attacks are regaining predominance, with multi-channel attacks accounting for a smaller proportion of the total attacks in the first quarter of 2007 compared to the first quarter of 2006.

” The mainstream public IM networks (AOL, MSN and Yahoo) continue to account for the majority of all IM-based attacks. However, other industry-specific networks (ranging from Reuters to semi-private Jabber-based networks) account for an increasing share of the total incidents – rising from 7 percent in 2004 to 17 percent of total attacks in the first quarter of 2007.

” Compared to 2006, researchers have seen a shift in the vectors used to distribute viruses. Attacks over IRC composed a significantly larger potion of attacks than in previous periods, 76 percent for the first quarter of 2007. In 2006, just 58 percent of attacks traveled over IRC.

FaceTime anticipates both the frequency and complexity of threats will continue to increase, with particular emphasis on IM networks and IRC. As more enterprises deploy IM company-wide, hackers will increasingly target enterprise IM users. The increase in IM use in the enterprise requires that IT departments monitor these channels carefully and take appropriate steps to manage and secure their adoption.

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