E-mail infections decline as exploits propagated via social media increase

Trojans are still in the spotlight, comprising 55 percent of all new threats according to PandaLabs.

Infection via email, traditionally the most popular vector for spreading malware, has declined in favor of greater use of social media. These include clickjacking attacks using the Facebook “Like” button, fake Web pages positioned on search engines (BlackHat SEO) and zero-day vulnerability exploits.

The rise in popularity of smart phones powered by Google’s Android operating system for smart phones has been accompanied by an increase in attacks targeting these devices. A number of different threats have appeared, primarily aimed at racking up phone bills or using the geolocalization function to transmit a user’s position to a third party.

There were few surprises in the quantity of malware reported: 55 percent of new threats created this quarter were Trojans, most of them banker Trojans. This is in line with the general increase in these types of threats that PandaLabs has witnessed over the last two years.

In the ranking of countries and regions suffering the most infections, Taiwan heads the list, followed by Russia, Brazil, Argentina, Poland, and Spain.

Spam shows no sign of slowing either; 95 percent of all email circulated across the Internet during the last quarter was junk mail and approximately 50 percent of all spam was sent from just ten countries, with India, Brazil and Russia as the top three originators. For the first time, the United Kingdom has disappeared from the Top 10 list of spammers.

A number of interesting security incidents have surfaced over the past few months. The “Here you Have” worm emerged in an apparent attempt to trigger a major epidemic, like those in the past caused by ILoveYou or Sircam; responsibility for the worm has been claimed by an Iraqi resistance group.

There has also been a great deal of commotion around two serious zero-day flaws in Microsoft OS code, one of which was exploited to attack SCADA systems (specifically in, nuclear power stations).

Of particular interest to Panda was the arrest of the creator of the Butterfly botnet kit, the source of the notorious Mariposa network that impacted 13 million computers around the world almost a year ago.

At the tail end of the quarter, an intriguing worm appeared on Twitter as a result of a Javascript vulnerability that enabled a cross-site scripting attack. In addition, ‘Rainbow’ or ‘OnMouseOver’ worms redirected users to Web pages or published Javascript in the user’s Twitter stream without their permission or knowledge. Twitter was able to resolve the problem in just a few hours.

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