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Trojan horses gain inside track as top form of malware

Panda Security released its latest report on computer malware, showing unexpected trends government security managers should know about, including the resurgence of a traditional form of malware.

First, the number of new infections is staggering, though system administrators probably expect that these days. In the first three months of the year, there were over six and a half million new malware samples created. Many of those are probably minute variations of each other, but that’s still an astounding number.

But what is more interesting is that over 80 percent of the infections are Trojan Horses. Trojans can’t replicate on their own. Unlike worms or most viruses, they are incapable of copying their code to other computers once they find a home. So how did they capture the number one spot in infections? Simple. The people who program them set them up on compromised websites. Users download them, thinking they are something else, like a Java plug-in or a browser helper. They can even be targeted to specific users, such as those running a certain operating system with a known vulnerability, making them highly effective.

In fact, Panda calls them the most dangerous type of infection, because their job is to steal personal information, bank account information, government secrets or other data that leads to further crimes being committed. “Trojans are cyber-crooks’ weapon of choice, which explains why they account for most new specimens in circulation and infections triggered in the first quarter of the year,” wrote Luis Corrons, technical director of Panda Labs, as part of the new report.

Another interesting fact in the report is the number of infected computers by country. While the global average for infected computers is 31.13 percent, the United States remains below that number by just a bit with 27.79 percent of its computers infected. And while we often think of China as being an instigator of cyber crimes (a recent report from Prolexic showed it was the largest base of operations for DDOS attacks so far in 2013), the Chinese apparently have their own problems too.

According to the Panda report, over 50 percent of all the computers in China are infected with malware of some type, making it the only nation in the world with more than half of its systems compromised.

Obviously the new report is an eye opener in lot of ways. Computer crimes being committed through Trojans aren’t just designed to ruin work or to embarrass users by sending porn to all their contacts. They are launch pads for other crimes where criminals steal real money, passwords or even government secrets. The need to remain vigilant, have the latest virus and malware protection constantly updated and to simply be careful what you download is more important than ever. It’s a dangerous world out there, and the latest Panda report shows just how dark things have become.

Posted by John Breeden II on May 06, 2013 at 9:39 AM


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