F-Secure expecting a million viruses this year
Finnish antivirus software vendor F-Secure has published its statistics for the first quarter of 2008. The company estimates that a total of a million new viruses will be born this year – 25,000 malicious programs per day have made their way onto the firm's servers.
This number agrees with other research. Service provider AV-Test last year had already registered viruses at the same daily rate, but from all antivirus vendors and other sources such as honeypots combined. According to AV Test general manager Andreas Marx, in the 13 hours to one o'clock on Tuesday 21,439 unique samples – viruses with a unique MD5 "fingerprint" – had already made their way onto the company's servers. While Marx originally expected his complete virus archive to contain a total of 7 million samples by the end of 2007, by mid-April the total is now anticipated to exceed 10 million.
As F-Secure gathers around 25,000 samples per day including MD5 non-uniques, the over 20,000 unique samples accumulated by Marx in 13 hours suggests that individual antivirus vendors each acquire only a fraction of the total number of viruses in circulation.
F-Secure's analysis also suggests a significant shift in the ways in which viruses are spread. Trojans in e-mail attachments are becoming less common, while attacks on the web using drive-by downloads are increasing. The use of root kit techniques to hide viruses is becoming more prevalent. According to F-Secure, the MBR root kit, discovered earlier this year, is spread by drive-by downloads.
The Finnish security company also develops antivirus software for smartphones. In view of that, it's no surprise that F-Secure has also discovered new threats to these mobile devices. For example, a virus has cropped up that, like the Zippo trojan, blackmails its victims by encrypting files and providing the password only once a ransom is paid. Furthermore, criminals are increasingly using social engineering tactics to encourage smartphone users to install files, using file names like