Significant drop in FakeAV

The trend in malicious software and attempted cyber crime is up but some of the most popular and visible malware is trending down.

According to lab results from Norman, a malware research and security company, researchers in September analyzed and found more than two million malicious files, or more than 72,000 files of malware per day pulsing through the internet like burglars going house-to-house looking for open windows and unlocked doors.

However, three of the most notorious malware families familiar to consumers and businesses have in fact had significant reductions in the malware attacks so far this year.

Researchers found that FakeAV dropped from approximately 45,000 attacks in June to less than 5,000 in August. FakeAV works like a crooked auto mechanic. It diagnoses a problem that doesn’t exist. PC users will click on an internet link which then claims to have found a malware infection on your computer.

Similarly, Zbot, also known as Zeus, became less of a threat from nearly 20,000 incidents in January to nearly neglible levels in September. Malware cousin SpyEye stayed under 2,000 incidents throughout the year.

Zbot, Zeus and related programs such as SpyEye first emerged in 2007 and attempt to steal financial information by methods including keystroke logging and form grabbing. Innocent users are tricked into drive-by downloading a malicious program which targets such personal data as the login information of banking credentials, credit card information or social security numbers. Bank accounts can be wiped out in seconds.

“Our data would indicate that the FakeAV family seems to have been reduced substantially by attacking the payment services used by them,” said Chrisophe Birkeland, Norman CTO. “While a number of malware attacks were certainly on the rise this year, these three families seem to have quieted down significantly. An important factor could be that coordinated police action in many countries has appeared inhibited the cyber criminals.”

“The statistics we have compiled can change quickly if a malware mass-producer starts up or quits,” Birkeland said. “But the effects of file-infecting viruses can be substantial in any case since even one file infector can create millions of malicious files even if they are coming from only one source of malware. Our labs see millions of files per year, so these trends are quite valid.”

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Significant drop in FakeAV