Kaspersky Lab released its annual Kaspersky Security Bulletin, which provides the overall malware and cyber-threat statistics for 2012. The report revealed significant growth of Mac-specific malware and an explosive growth in the number of threats targeting the Android platform. Overall, Kaspersky Lab detected and blocked more than 1.5 billion web-based attacks in 2012 and more than 3 billion infected files.
At the present time Kaspersky Lab detects and blocks more than 200,000 new malicious programs every day, a significant increase from the first half of 2012, when 125,000 malicious programs were detected and blocked each day on average.
One of the most important news in the beginning of 2012 was the discovery of Flashback, a 700,000 strong botnet comprised of infected Apple computers running Mac OS X. The significant outbreak was caused by a new variant of the Flashfake malware and the security incident put an end to the perception of the Mac OS X platform as being invulnerable to exploitation.
In addition to mass-malware, Mac OS X computers also became frequent victims of targeted attacks. The main reason for this is that Apple products are popular with many influential politicians and prominent businessmen, and the information stored in the devices owned by these people is of interest to a certain category of cybercriminals. In total, Kaspersky Lab’s antivirus experts created 30% more signatures to detect various Mac Trojans in 2012 compared to 2011.
Another key trend of 2012 is the continued rapid growth of Android malware. The Android platform has firmly established itself as the main point of interest for cybercriminals. Although malicious programs for other mobile platforms, such as Symbian, Blackberry or J2ME, are still being developed, 99% of newly discovered malicious programs targeted the Android platform. Despite attempts by Google to introduce its own anti-malware technology, malicious applications continue to appear in the official Google Play store.
In 2012 the first incident with an ambiguous app collecting the address book data and sending spam was recorded at Apple App Store as well. Just like traditional PCs, mobile devices are now targeted with high-profile cybercriminal operations, including targeted attacks and creating “mobile” botnets.
In 2012 Kaspersky Lab’s products blocked an average of more than 4 million browser-based attacks every day, with the total number web-based attacks surpassing 1.5 billion for the year. The most frequently used technique for attacking users online is exploiting vulnerabilities in programs or applications. Throughout the year Kaspersky Lab’s experts registered both large-scale and targeted attacks utilizing vulnerable software, with Oracle Java being the most frequently targeted (50% of attacks).
Adobe Reader ranked second (28%) and Adobe Flash player occupies the fourth place with only 2% share, thanks to efficient automatic updating system that promptly closes security holes. In addition, some of the exploits actively used targeted older vulnerabilities that still existed in various Windows operating systems. One of the explanations for this is that older versions of Windows are still actively used. For example, share of computers with Windows XP in 2012 was 44%, compared to 63% in 2011 – not a significant drop given Windows 7 has been available for three years and Windows 8 was recently released this year.
More than 3 billion malware incidents were detected and blocked by Kaspersky Lab’s software on users’ local hard drives and external storage. In total, 2.7 million unique modifications of malware and potentially unwanted programs attempting to launch on users’ computers were detected during these incidents.
The majority of local infections were blocked by Kaspersky Lab’s behavior-based heuristic technology. It is notable that different versions of years-old Kido (Conficker) and Sality are still present in the list of the most frequently blocked malware. Overall, the number of new malicious applications has increased rapidly: in the first half of 2012 Kaspersky Lab recorded an average number of 125,000 new malware every day. Toward the end of the year this figure has grown to 200,000.
Servers located in the United States were the most frequently used to host and deliver malicious objects (25.5% of all incidents). Russia occupies the second place with 19.6% followed by the Netherlands, Germany and the United Kingdom. This is a significant change compared to years past: in 2010 the majority of malware was hosted in China. Changes in domain registration policies and other regulations taken by Chinese authorities resulted in the rapid decline of malicious hosts originating from the country.
On the contrary, the United States, Russia and other European countries have seen a major increase in the number of malicious hosting sites as cybercriminals compromise legitimate online resources in large quantities in addition to registering purely malicious websites.
Based on the number of blocked web attacks and local malicious files, Kaspersky Lab’s experts calculated the “risk level” for different countries, defined as the share of attacked users. Russia and former USSR republics occupy the top places in the web attacks chart, but 31 countries (including UK, Australia and Canada) in total have also joined them in the “high risk” group. In these countries at least 41% of users were attacked online in 2012.
Bangladesh, Sudan, Malavi, Tanzania and Rwanda form the top five countries where users are most frequently attacked with local malware infections. 7 countries in total were categorized as “maximum risk”, where 75% or more users were at least once attacked with a malicious file. Another 41% countries joined the “high risk” group (56-75% of attacked users), including Indonesia, Ethiopia and Kenya. In contrast, Denmark was deemed as the safest country, as the country had the lowest rate of infected computers (15%). Japan, Finland, Sweden and Czech Republic were the other countries listed with the lowest infection rates.