By collecting data from the more than 120 million users participating in our global AVG Community Protection Network, we are able to identify threats that have wreaked havoc from the farthest corners of the world and form a comprehensive assessment of the state of online security today.
The good news? Cybercriminals weren’t particularly innovative in the way they attacked our online communities, sites, and networks so far this year. The bad news? They didn’t need to be—for what the majority of attacks may have lacked in inventiveness, they more than made up for in sheer volume and efficiency.
A lot of this may be explained by the massive and practically defenceless target posed by the exploding number of smartphones, tablets and other advanced mobile devices. Whereas these devices aren’t any more vulnerable than our PCs, there is widespread user apathy in securing them.
No wonder 2011 is shaped up to be the year of Android malware. Even when Google fixes platform weaknesses that can be exploited by hackers, a frightening few was download their mobile updates, leaving themselves needlessly vulnerable to flaws that have been corrected.
Equally unsurprising was the tri-fold increase we saw in malicious campaigns going after Facebook users, who can’t resist clicking on links that promise to unmask their anonymous page visitors only to find themselves victims of a malware attack.
But perhaps the most critical area of concern is the rise in Blackhole Exploit Kits, which can redirect users from legitimate sites to malicious sites that launch Trojan horse payloads customized right then and there to target the device where its defences was weakest. Such methods were used by criminals to coordinate sophisticated attacks on the United States Postal Service and such attacks of this scale will undoubtedly be repeated.
Indeed, in February 2011, we watched Blackhole attacks jump from a few hundred to more than 800,000 in just one day. This shows the remarkable efficiency and professionalism criminals were employed in the structure and organization of their operations. These campaigns were well planned, well-funded, and highly profitable. Beating them will require not only more effective technical measures to ward them off, but a more educated public.
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