Top 3 places malware is hiding now

Cyber criminals always seem to stay one step ahead of IT – as protections improve in some areas, the hackers shift their focus to others. 

Here are some of the top areas malware is lurking now, according to recent studies:

Peer-to-peer networks

Peer-to-peer file-sharing and communication networks have always presented a big security risk for companies. One concern is that employees will accidentally share sensitive documents over those networks. In addition, the lack of centralized control could make it easier to spread malware over those networks.

Cyber criminals are really starting to take advantage of that, according to a recent report from security firm Damballa. Over the past year, the number of malware samples that spread over peer-to-peer networks increased by 500%, researchers found.

To avoid those attacks, IT departments should make sure they’re blocking traffic to and from unauthorized peer-to-peer networks.

Social media

As more personal and business communication takes place on social networks, cyber criminals are using those sites as one of their primary methods of delivering malware. Those attacks have grown significantly in the past few months, according the McAfee Threats Report: First Quarter 2013, released recently by the security vendor.

Specifically, researchers saw a big increase in discoveries of the so-called “Koobface” malware that targets users of Faceebok, Twitter and other social networks. The Trojan software was seen three times as much as in the beginning of this year as it had been in the previous quarter.

First seen in 2008, the malware spreads via messages that encourage users to click on a link that appears to lead to an online video. After users click the link, they get a message telling them they need to update their Flash player. But when they try to install the update, their computers get infected with the malware.

One step experts recommend to keep this and similar malware off the corporate network: Make sure users are trained to recognize avoid social media threats.

Compromised web sites

Users no longer have to travel to illicit parts of the web to come across malicious software. In fact, they’re more likely to find malware on the sites they go to for work, according to a report from networking vendor Cisco.

The top sources of web-based malware, according to researchers:

  • Third-party dynamic content on legitimate sites
  • Advertisements, and
  • Business and industry sites.

Attackers are compromising legitimate sites in order to reach the greatest number of users possible. So the most dangerous websites tend to be the most popular.

The prevalence of those threats means it’s more important than ever for IT to make sure that virus protection applications are installed and updated and that all web browsers and other software is kept up to date.

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