The cyber warfare revolution

F-Secure’s new Threat Report uncovers a security landscape in which focus has shifted away from traditional virus and malware threats to nation state sponsored cyber attacks.

Stuxnet and its successors Flame and Gauss, simply put, have been game changers. I think we are now seeing the very first steps of a new cyber arms race,” says Mikko Hypponen, Chief Research Officer at F-Secure.

F-Secure Labs has estimated that it took more than 10 man years to develop Stuxnet. Such input indicates that cyber warfare has become very viable option over conventional methods like diplomacy or boycotts.

“Countries are using malware to attack each other. The cyber warfare revolution is underway. It’s happening right now,” Mikko Hypponen comments.

The first half of the year once again confirmed that Macs are not immune from attack. Of particular note was the outbreak of new variants of Flashback, which utilized a Java vulnerability to distribute the malware on compromised websites.

“The popularity of Macs in universities made them particularly hard hit. The Oxford University security team noted that Flashback was probably the biggest outbreak since Blaster struck the Windows world in 2003,” says Sean Sullivan, Security Advisor at F-Secure.

Among other online threats, Zeus in its many variants remained a key concern. This banking trojan, which utilizes keystroke logging and form grabbing, was particularly forceful in selected regions of USA. Encountered have also been new versions of SpyEye, which without any indication empty your bank account when you access it online.

Ransomware saw a resurgence with no slowdown expected during the latter part of the year. Especially prevalent have been browsers blocked by the “police” due to alleged illegal surfing activity, with “fines” to be paid using disposable cash cards or other untraceable means.

Smartphone attacks mostly targeted the Android operating system. The threats included unwanted software such as Steware.A and DroidRooter.F, as well as spyware such as Adboo.A. A simple visit to a malicious website can render a device with a certain configuration infected.

“The year so far has shown there is no slowdown in virus and malware attacks. The best protection remains having up-to-date anti-virus software on all your devices.”

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