Anti-spam success drives malware authors downmarket

Spam to scam scramble


Crooks are turning to spyware scams because it's getting harder to make money from spam, according to a leading UK anti-virus expert. "Spam is less effective because of improved anti-spam filters, so crooks are looking at phishing, ID theft, and stealing information on demand to make money," said Graham Cluley, senior technology consultant for Sophos.

Two weeks ago a UK government agency issued an unprecedented security warning that British firms were being targeted in a series of specially crafted Trojan horse attacks, many reportedly originating from the Far East. The UK's National Infrastructure Security Co-ordination Centre (NISCC) warned the goal of this cyber-blitz was the "covert gathering or transmitting of commercially or economically valuable information".

Anti-virus experts speaking during a Digital mafia roundtable discussion in London on Thursday agreed that the face of malware threats was changing. Patrik Runald, senior technical consultant at F-Secure, said the number of malware outbreaks is down as virus writers are moving away from large-scale attacks that draw attention to themselves towards targeted attacks.

Simon Perry, CA's VP of security strategy in EMEA, added that digital attacks fell into three categories: volume attacks against consumers (e.g. spam), assaults against electronic storefronts and industrial espionage attacks. Although experts on the panel agreed that the malware threat was changing and becoming more closely linked to criminal gangs, they were split on whether "old school virus writers had fallen in with a bad crowd" or a different group of people had gotten into the creation of malicious code.

Pete Simpson, ThreatLab Manager at security firm CLEARSWIFT, said ISPs were key in the fight to contain malicious code, but end users (for easily falling for social engineering tricks), software vendors and universities also came in for criticism. CA's Perry cited a case of software developers graduating from a unnamed university having studied secure coding techniques for just two days during a three-year course. Security holes in applications make up an increasing category of threats so greater attention ought to be paid to education the next generation of developers about best practices, he argued. ®

Related stories

Spyware blizzard shows no sign of let up
UK trojan siege has been running over a year
UK under cyber blitz


Other stories you might like

  • Lenovo halves its ThinkPad workstation range
    Two becomes one as ThinkPad P16 stands alone and HX replaces mobile Xeon

    Lenovo has halved its range of portable workstations.

    The Chinese PC giant this week announced the ThinkPad P16. The loved-by-some ThinkPad P15 and P17 are to be retired, The Register has confirmed.

    The P16 machine runs Intel 12th Gen HX CPUs, but only up to the i7 models – so maxes out at 14 cores and 4.8GHz clock speed. The laptop is certified to run Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and can ship with that, Ubuntu, and Windows 11 or 10. The latter is pre-installed as a downgrade right under Windows 11.

    Continue reading
  • US won’t prosecute ‘good faith’ security researchers under CFAA
    Well, that clears things up? Maybe not.

    The US Justice Department has directed prosecutors not to charge "good-faith security researchers" with violating the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act (CFAA) if their reasons for hacking are ethical — things like bug hunting, responsible vulnerability disclosure, or above-board penetration testing.

    Good-faith, according to the policy [PDF], means using a computer "solely for purposes of good-faith testing, investigation, and/or correction of a security flaw or vulnerability."

    Additionally, this activity must be "carried out in a manner designed to avoid any harm to individuals or the public, and where the information derived from the activity is used primarily to promote the security or safety of the class of devices, machines, or online services to which the accessed computer belongs, or those who use such devices, machines, or online services."

    Continue reading
  • Intel plans immersion lab to chill its power-hungry chips
    AI chips are sucking down 600W+ and the solution could be to drown them.

    Intel this week unveiled a $700 million sustainability initiative to try innovative liquid and immersion cooling technologies to the datacenter.

    The project will see Intel construct a 200,000-square-foot "mega lab" approximately 20 miles west of Portland at its Hillsboro campus, where the chipmaker will qualify, test, and demo its expansive — and power hungry — datacenter portfolio using a variety of cooling tech.

    Alongside the lab, the x86 giant unveiled an open reference design for immersion cooling systems for its chips that is being developed by Intel Taiwan. The chip giant is hoping to bring other Taiwanese manufacturers into the fold and it'll then be rolled out globally.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022