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Wed 5 May 2004 04:00 AM

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More and meaner online threats, says Trend Micro

Viruses are not only growing in number, they’re getting nastier, according to IT security firm Trend Micro.

Viruses are not only growing in number, they’re getting nastier, according to IT security firm Trend Micro.

Last month, April, the firm said it detected 1700 new malicious codes, including worms, viruses, Trojans and other malware. That’s an increase of around 500 from the month before and up a staggering 1300 from the 400 detected in December last year. The company declared four yellow alerts last month, for two variants of each of the Netsky and Bagle worms.

As well as increasing in number, the shift towards “backdoor” threats shows a definite change on the face of the virus landscape, the company claims. A backdoor is a programme that gives secret access to a user’s computer, allowing system security to be bypassed.

“This increase in backdoor programmes illustrates an evolution in the objective of virus writers,” said David Kopp, head of TrendLabs EMEA, which monitors suspicious actions or efforts across the region. “Until now virus writers wrote their codes with the intention of gaining media attention, almost like a kind of game. However the number of really dangerous malicious code created, that could actually damage systems, was very low. Now with the release of all these backdoors, the face of the malware world has changed,” he claimed.

Home users are particularly at risk as they often don’t understand the security dangers, and just leave their machines connected to xDSL connections continuously, Kopp said. Infected computers can then be used to launch future attacks.

Virus writers may also be writing code for financial gain, Kopp warned, with the possibility that organisations are paying to get users’ personal data. This may have been driving some of the recent attacks.

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