CYBERCRIME:  A  DISTURBING  TREND
 
MANILA, OCTOBER 26, 2007 (STAR) Videogame systems, smartphones and other gadgets that link up to the Internet are in grave danger with cyber criminals out to creep into these devices for malicious purposes.

This is one of the findings of Symantecís Internet Security Threat Report (ISTR), providing a six-month update of Internet threat activity within the Asia-Pacific region and Japan.

It includes an analysis of network-based attacks, a review of known vulnerabilities, and highlights of malicious code. It also discusses numerous issues related to online fraud, including phishing, spam, and security risks such as adware, spyware, and misleading applications.

Cyber theft targeting personal or financial data is on the rise. In the last half of 2006, Symantec found that 80 percent of the top 50 reported threats could be used for data theft. It appears profit is the new motive for Internet threats, and the pride of one-upmanship ó which used to inspire many cyber attacks ó is giving way to calculated criminal intent.

According to the report, cyber criminals are using a variety of stealth technologies such as keystroke loggers that capture everything you type into your keyboard. Keystroke logging made up 57 percent of the threats in the Asia-Pacific and Japan and 88 percent worldwide.

Three of the top 10 samples from the Asia-Pacific and Japan are password-stealing Trojan horses that scour you cache for the keys to your online banking and finance accounts, accounting for 51 percent of the volume of malicious code reports from the region and 73 percent worldwide.

The most frequently reported malicious code sample in the region was the Gampass Trojan, The Looked.BK worm came second and the Netsky. P mass-mailing worm was third.

These cyber criminals also make use of other malware that simply download files, which may include sensitive information or quietly install for later attacks.

But not all cyber crimes rely on malware. Phishing attacks, which involve old-fashioned deceit, continue to be a major threat. Phishing uses fake websites to trick people into divulging confidential information.

According the ISTR, Japan has the most phishing websites in the region, ranking eighth in the world. China is second as its spam remained at 68 percent.

Cyber criminals are also using viruses in new and sophisticated ways and there are still plenty of annoyances and dangers unrelated to theft or fraud. Spyware and adware continue to proliferate, while worms propagated through Internet messengers (IM) have increased this past year.

Stealthier

Symantec predicts methods of infiltration are likely to get stealthier as criminals use ever more cunning bots, keyloggers, and other unobtrusive programs to infiltrate computers and steal data.

Phishing is expected to become diversified. Symantec expects an increase in phishing attacks through IM messages.

A black market could arise as some people begin selling and trading information rather than going public with newly discovered security holes and other vulnerabilities. This only means that one of these days, criminals may be able to buy and sell ways to attack PCs on the Internet.

Recent security efforts have slowed the growth of botnets. However, bots will begin to evolve in response to these efforts, likely exploiting new Web browser and Web application vulnerabilities.

The odds of becoming a victim also increase as cyber crime proliferates. But that doesnít mean users cannot do anything about it. There are plenty of things a consumer can do and learn in order to reduce his risk.

Internet users should learn how to spot a phishing scam, keep limited amounts of sensitive data on their computers and try to lessen the amount of critical information being sent over the Internet.

In the event that confidential information has been sent, users should make sure of using secure websites. Avoiding downloadable programs or opening attachments from unfamiliar persons or organizations helps a lot. And most importantly, users must always keep themselves informed about the latest security threats.

Itís not that hard to thwart cyber crimes with a comprehensive security solution. A program like Norton Internet Security automatically blocks hackers, viruses, spam, and dangerous spyware, and it can even detect when stealth programs try to transmit stolen data from any computer.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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