The amount of computers nefariously “hijacked” by malicious hackers to spew out spam and spread viruses has soared almost 30% in the twelve months, according to security firm Symantec.
The security bigwigs reported that more than six million bot-infected computers were detected during the second half of 2006, with over a third of all computer attacks originating from US-based PCs.
Despite this growth, the number of bot ‘command-and-control’ servers shrunk by around 25% to 4,700, pointing to a more centralised system for unleashing bot-tastic attacks.
Symantec blames the rise in infected computers on the growing online population of countries like China and Spain, with Ollie Whitehouse, senior consulting services director, commenting, “There is almost an educational curve that the users and service providers have to go through. Unfortunately when certain countries go through rapid increases in connectivity and availability of technology that curve is not always kept up.”
The company also noted that ‘underground economy servers’ were being being used by dodgy perps to flog stolen personal information, including credit cards, bank cards, PIN numbers and other forms of ID.
Just over half of all identity theft-related data breaches were also found to have resulted from the loss or theft of computer hardware (like a laptop, USB memory stick, removable storage).
“As cyber criminals become increasingly malicious, they continue to evolve their attack methods to become more complex and sophisticated in order to prevent detection,” warned Arthur Wong, senior vice president, Symantec Security Response and Managed Services.
“End users, whether consumers or enterprises, need to ensure proper security measures to prevent an attacker from gaining access to their confidential information, causing financial loss, harming valuable customers, or damaging their own reputation,” he added.