Lost in space on planet malware

This week my life has been a bit like an episode of Lost in Space.

I'm sitting through yet another IT security media event and all I can hear is the robot: "Danger Will Robinson, Danger." This is what has become of yours truly after years of covering the security beat.

Warnings about the next emerging threat, followed by more warnings. Beware we are all under assault from Planet Malware!

We're all familiar with the statistics, 72 percent of organizations are infected with spyware (and they don't know it), 40 percent with Trojans (and they don't know it). Or is it 72 percent spam and 40 percent spyware? It begins to sound all too repetitive, from one new malicious attack to the next.

But put aside the numbers and the robot has a point, the threat landscape on the Internet has fundamentally changed.

Widespread worm infections and hacker threats are so yesterday. Forget Code Red and Sasser, attacks are far more targetted and specific.

Today it's about money, not egos. Organized crime has discovered the world of e-business and the goldmine for the crims is the hoard of identities.

And more importantly, they are winning through stealth.

As Auscert general manager Graham Ingram explains, criminals are not in the business of advertising their business, which is why they are increasingly using rootkits. This is about undetected, malicious software targetting the application layer, not servers. By putting rootkits into kernal mode it cannot be removed.

Well, it can be if you want to reload the operating system from scratch.

Ingram says the quality of malicious code has improved considerably and 60 percent of this malware is not detected by antivirus products. In fact, the two most popular AV products have an 80 percent miss rate for this type of threat.

And the biggest targets? Those holding ID data, most notably financial services firms and government.

Are you listening to the robot in your head and protecting your data? E-mail sandra_rossi@idg.com.au

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