October 26 2011

How Hackers Target Canadians

Posted on the 08:23 am under IT Security,Microsoft by Darren Boyer

 The 2011 Microsoft Security Intelligence Report outlines some key findings for anyone using a computer. 99 per cent of all attacks in the first 6 months of 2011 were from malware that was distributed using old and familiar techniques, such as social engineering and unpatched vulnerabilities. By definition an unpatched vulnerability is not a new security flaw but an old one that has an available patch.

Apparently Canadians make good targets. The study found that our country was exposed to almost three times more phishing sites than the global average and more than three times the percentage of sites hosting drive-by downloads.

“This means that the most common malware threat in Canada is Adware, which affected 45.8 per cent of all infected computers in 2Q11, down from 57.5 per cent in 1Q11 but significantly higher than the world wide average,” explained Bruce Cowper, senior security strategist for Trustworthy Computing at Microsoft. “Adware rose to become the most commonly detected category due in large part to a pair of new threat families that did not exist in 2010- Win32/OpenCandy and Win32/ShopperReports.”

Other interesting points that may help us keep our computers secure. User interaction, typically employing social engineering techniques, is attributed to nearly half (45 per cent) of all malware propagation in the first half of 2011 globally. More than a third of all malware is spread through cybercriminal abuse of Win32/Autorun, a feature that automatically starts programs when external media, such as a CD or USB, are inserted into a computer. Ninety per cent of infections that were attributed to vulnerability exploitation had a security update available from the software vendor for more than a year.

While there’s been an overall drop in the number of Canadian computers infected with malicious software ( a total of 1.8 per cent were infected), the most common types of successful exploits indicate that Canadians still have a way to go with keeping their systems up to date.

Key takeaway’s from the report show how malware was actually propagating. Things like social engineering, Autorun feature abuse, file-infection, and unpatched vulnerabilities). Most of the above can be attributed to human error or an error in process. Good security practices involves a back to basics approach such as instructing users on email that should be deleted or ignored, controlling what is allowed to run on a computer and ensuring systems are proactively updated.

Written by Darren Boyer

Darren Boyer

Darren Boyer is the founder and president of pcit.

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