PandaLab’s 2012 Annual Security Report details a particularly interesting year of data theft, social networking attacks and cyber-warfare.
31.98 percent of all computers scanned around the world revealed malware infections and the addition of 2012’s numbers, saw the grand total of all malware samples in PandaLabs’ database reach approximately 125 million, with researchers estimating that at least 27 million new strains of malware were created in 2012 alone.
These figures demonstrate cyber-criminals’ sheer capacity to automate the creation of new malware variants, further evidenced by the average number of new threats created and released every day increasing to 74,000. This malware avalanche can be stopped with Panda Security’s Collective Intelligence technologies, a cloud-based proprietary system that automatically detects, analyses and classifies 99.4 percent of all malware received by PandaLabs.
In 2012, 76% of malware infections were caused by Trojans, growth which can possibly be attributed to the increased use of exploit kits such as Black Hole, capable of exploiting multiple system vulnerabilities to infect computers automatically without user intervention. Viruses came second (8 percent), whereas worms dropped to third place accounting for 6.44 percent of all infections.
The countries leading the list of most infections are China, South Korea and Taiwan, with 54.89, 54.15 and 42.14 percent of infected computers respectively. On a positive note, the proportion of infected computers around the world decreased significantly. For example, the number of infected computers in China dropped from 56 percent in 2011 to 54.89 percent in 2012, whereas in Taiwan the decrease was even larger (from 52 percent to 42.14 percent).
The countries with the fewest infections are Sweden (20.25 percent of infected PCs), followed by Switzerland (20.35 percent), and Norway (21.03).
In the mobile phone industry, Android’s market share continued to rise to the point that it is now the platform most frequently targeted for cyber-thieves.
Social networking sites are also covered extensively in the report. Facebook and Twitter continue to be among the most popular social media sites, and are exploited by cyber-thieves to trick users, infect their computers and steal confidential information. Linkedin, a tool that is increasingly becoming a key part of job searches, also suffered a massive breach that led to the theft of 6.5 million user passwords.
Ransomware also grabbed the headlines in 2012 with the ‘Police Virus’ infected hundreds of thousands of computers around the world, using fear and blackmailing techniques to extort money from computer users.
Looking to the future, cyber-crime and social media attacks will continue to hog the limelight in 2013. Special care will have to be taken to protect networks against operating system and application vulnerabilities, as it has become increasingly common to see cyber-criminals and national intelligence agencies exploiting security flaws to silently compromise systems. In addition, Android users will face a growing number of attacks. Cyber-espionage and cyber-war will also be on the rise in a year that presents itself full of challenges in the computer security world.
The full report is available at: http://press.pandasecurity.com/press-room/reports/ and on the PandaLabs blog.