AVG (AU/NZ) , distributors of the AVG Anti-Virus and Internet Security software in Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific, has recently released the informative "AVG Community Powered Threat Report - Q1 2011" which offers valuable insight on the trends and developments in the field of Internet security and online threats.
The trend in Q1-2011 is revealed in the report to be a significant increase in the overall number of global attacks, marking a rising professionalism in the structure and operations of global organised cyber crime. Within this, the most prominent developments were:
- Major growth in malicious campaigns that exploited the viral nature of Facebook users
- A notable increase in risk for smartphone users as cyber criminals extend the battlefield to mobile devices
- A significant increase in Blackhole Exploit Kits, used by criminals to coordinate attacks
As the Internet’s second most visited web site, Facebook is a clear target for cyber criminals. Q1 of 2011 revealed a continuing increase in attacks on Facebook users with ‘click-jacking’ scams rising from once a week to once every other day. Defence from these scams requires continuous vigilance and profiles without suitable privacy settings are subject to exploitation by marketers or cyber criminals and could be used for identity fraud.
AVG offers the following security tips for staying safe when using Facebook:
- Check privacy settings – ensure privacy settings aren’t allowing others to view information intended to be kept private.
- Pay attention to ‘friends.’
- Use AVG Social Networking Protection: links that are exchanged within Facebook are automatically checked in real time. AVG Social Networking protection is activated automatically as soon as AVG is installed.
The first quarter saw an increase in risk for smartphone users and particularly the Android platform. AVG blocked an average of 100,000 spam and phishing text messages per day. The open source nature of the Android operating system gives cyber criminals more opportunities to write malicious code. Android users are thereby encouraged to install additional security solutions such as AVG Mobilation for Android which can help prevent users from downloading up to 10,000 infected applications a day.
A recent survey carried out by AVG and The Ponemon Institute discovered that a third of smartphone owners are unaware of the increasing risks posed by malicious software, with only 29% having considered protecting their device and data with an anti-virus program or Internet security software.
Security Evangelist at AVG (AU/NZ), Lloyd Borrett, said: “The use of these open technologies poses a great risk, since they are constantly connected and substantially less protected than when using a personal computer. Users tend to shrug off mobile security solutions and carelessly broadcast financial, account and other personal data, such as their exact location, while on the go.”
AVG's recommendations for protecting smartphones or tablets are:
- An Android phone should be treated like an unsecured PC. It is unsecured unless steps are taken to protect it.
- Make sure applications are downloaded from a trustworthy source.
- Protect Android smartphones with security software such as AVG Mobilation for Android.
Blackhole Exploit Kits are increasingly being used by criminals to coordinate attacks. During one week in February 2011, Blackhole attacks jumped from a few hundred per day to over 800,000 in one day.
Borrett contended: "The increasing professionalism behind some of the threats clearly demonstrates the profit that can be made. These campaigns are well planned and well funded. They therefore demand not only very effective counter technical measures, but also the need to raise awareness among the users everywhere.
"As an example, during Q1, a Latvian gang was able to bring 600 attack servers online for just a couple of weeks in a highly targeted Blackhole attack. This resulted in over 800,000 detections worldwide, per day by the AVG servers," he added.
About the AVG Community Powered Threat Report
The report is based on the AVG Community Protection Network traffic and data followed by research and analysis performed by AVG over a three month period. It delivers an overview of web, mobile devices, spam risks and threats. The statistics referenced are obtained from the AVG Community Protection Network.
The AVG Community Protection Network is an online Neighbourhood Watch, helping persons in the community to protect one another. Information about the latest Internet security threats is collected from customers who opted to participate in the product improvement program.
With more than 120 million users using AVG’s various applications worldwide, AVG is provided with 1.5 billion potential threats to analyse daily. AVG offers strong community protection and each new user who chooses to participate increases the security level of the community as a whole.