Malware, short for malicious software, is a general term for hostile or intrusive software that is used to disrupt computer operations, gather sensitive information, or gain access to computer systems.
According to industry sources, 20 percent of all of the malware that’s ever existed was created in 2013. That is, 30 million new threats were created in just one year or about 82,000 a day. This represents a dramatic malware surge over previous years.
A threat is any new release of malware. This may be a totally new threat or a variation on an existing piece of malware. A very minor change to the code of an existing threat is counted as a new threat because the change will probably have been devised to get around anti-virus or other security systems.
Here’s a summary of the malware that was created in 2013:
Total threats… 30 million (100%)
Trojans… 21 million (70.0%)
Viruses… 2.5 million (8.5%)
Worms… 4 million (13.3%)
Adware / spyware… 2 million (6.9%)
Other… 0.5 million (1.3%)
A Trojan is a hacking program that gains access to your computer’s operating Ukraine updates system by offering something desirable such as a free app which, when you download it, includes malicious code.
A virus is a program that infects executable files (in which the name ends in.exe) such as an app. A worm is a standalone program that actively transmits itself to other computers.
Adware shows advertisements automatically. Spyware gathers your information, such as internet surfing habits, user logins, and banking or credit card information, without your knowledge.
As regards actual infections, Trojans accounted for nearly 80% of infections detected in 2013.
The most infected country was China with 54 percent of the total infections. This may be because China has the highest percentage of users running Windows XP, which is considered to be a very vulnerable operating system.
While the sheer volume of malware created last year is extremely worrying, the most disturbing aspect of Internet security in 2013 was the successful assaults on Twitter, Facebook, Apple and Microsoft. These are major tech companies whose security systems should be unbreachable. So, if the experts are vulnerable, what about the rest of us?
Starting with Twitter in February, these four companies were targeted in sophisticated attacks that exploited an unpatched vulnerability in Java. Unpatched is geek-speak for “not fixed yet”.
The attack on Adobe was one of the worse incidents in 2013. Source code for some of company’s products was compromised, and the usernames and passwords of more than 38 million users were lifted.
The attacks on Twitter were laughable in a way but could have had deadly serious effects. Hackers used the Associated Press’ Twitter account to send out fake news alerts claiming that bombs had been detonated at the White House and that President Obama had been injured.
The Twitter account of Burger King was also hacked. The attackers changed the site’s images to images lifted from McDonalds and tweeted that Burger King had been taken over by its rival. It would be interesting to see who bought and sold shares in both those companies on that day.