Windows malware nearly doubled in 2012: Quick Heal survey

India is under the grip of cyber attacks, as there was a sharp rise in Windows malware as well as virus attacks on mobile phones, especially Android-based smartphones, in 2012 compared to 2011, says a Quick Heal survey.

In its annual Windows and mobile malware report 2012, the anti-virus solutions provider said that there was an increase of almost 90 per cent in Windows malware and a 170 per cent rise in its modifications. Virus attacks in the mobile space saw 30 per cent rise in 2012 and 80 per cent increase in its modifications.

"Windows is still the most attacked Operating System. 2012 saw numerous attacks that were devised for windows vulnerabilities. Cybercriminals have leveraged zero-day exploits even more effectively with new software patterns and business models. The web is still the most conventional way of targeting victims," cautioned Sanjay Katkar, technical director and CTO, Quick Heal Technologies.

The report noted that mobile applications have become the easiest way to compromise devices. Over 25 billion apps were downloaded from Google Play in 2012, which make applications easy and profitable attack vehicles. Social engineering still remains one of the most coveted ways of spreading malware.

Cyber criminals continue to use it as a convenient way of exploiting human behaviour and platform vulnerabilities.

In case of the mobile platform, there was a consistent growth in malicious and privacy-compromising applications as cybercriminals use social engineering, toll fraud and other ways to convert infected devices into cash minting machines.

On the influx of mobile malware, Katkar said it is no longer restricted to the global scenario alone but has aggressively penetrated in India as well. This, combined with the concerns of lost and stolen devices, emphasises the fact that it is about time that mobile security is taken seriously.

People still prefer convenience over security and this is not an issue that is restricted to the victims alone, but it now engulfs almost everyone with a smartphone, according to the findings. Security here implies the right mixture of a robust tool to manage devices and apps and protecting the data, passwords and usernames.

The attacks are financially motivated and targeted at newer victims who land up on the wrong side of payment extractions. Trojans and backdoors comprised the vast majority of malware at 68 per cent and 13 per cent, respectively, while virus and worms comprised 14 per cent of the samples received and adware took up five per cent.

New vulnerabilities assaulted Java browser plug-ins in all leading browsers. Socially engineered e-mails and poisoned web pages were disguised in the form of fake-antivirus software that froze PCs asking for money to register and remove the virus threat.

"It is pivotal that our efforts are driven to educate, inform and create awareness among the end users because as people embrace newer platforms and devices there are more and more who end up at the wrong end of attacks," said Katkar.

Most of the malware families are being designed to steal money from the victim. Trojans and SMS Trojans comprised the vast majority of mobile malware attacking the mobile devices at 21 per cent and 38 per cent respectively, while rooters and adware comprised 14.26 per cent and 14.12 per cent of the pie.

The top Android malware circulating in the Indian Mobile device threat scenario are Android.BoxerSms, Android.GingerMaster, Android. Kungfu, Android. Leadbolt(Adware), Android.Kmin, Android.BaseBridge, Android.GoldDream,  Android.Ksapp and Android.Plankton(Adware).

The top Windows malware circulating in the Indian threat scenario are W32.Sality.U, W32.Virut.G, Trojan.Starter.yy4, 32.Autorun.Gen,  TDSS/Alureon,  W32.Ramnit.A,  Worm.VB.HA, and 32.Xpaj.C.

(Edited by Prem Udayabhanu)

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