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17 May 2011, 13:32

Microsoft publishes its latest Security Intelligence Report

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Microsoft Microsoft has published volume 10 of the Microsoft Security Intelligence Report (SIR v10) with new data covering the second half of 2010.

In the United Kingdom, Microsoft found that an average of 8.7 computers out of every 1,000 tested in the fourth quarter of 2010 were infected with malware – this is directly inline with the worldwide Q4 2010 average score of 8.7. By comparison, the number of infected computers in Germany is still below the global average, in spite of more than doubling from 2.2 in the fourth quarter of 2009 to 5.3.

Zoom What Microsoft finds on UK computers: Porn ads.
Source: Microsoft
The most common type of malware and unwanted software in the UK was found to be adware, affecting 38.1% of all computers cleaned in the fourth quarter. While down by 0.1% compared to the previous quarter, this number is still more than double that of the worldwide average of just over 15%. Miscellaneous Trojans ranked second at 30.4%, up from 30.1% in the third quarter.

Microsoft's study collates results from a total of 600 million computers worldwide. The company analyses anonymised usage statistics obtained by its security programs and services, such as Microsoft Security Essentials.

Zoom Adware and trojans are the top two threats found on UK systems.
Source: Microsoft
JavaScript-based adware Pornpop was responsible for 14.7% of all malware recorded in the UK – in Germany Pornpop came in at 18.2%. Pornpop opens pop-under advertisements that contain adult content when users visit a specially-crafted web site. The second most common threat in the UK for Q4 2010 was Win32/ClickPotato (13.4%), a program that displays pop-up and notification-style ads based on the user's browsing habits.

ClickPotato was followed by Win32/Zwangi and Win32/Hotbar, each accounting for 11.4% of affected computers. Zwangi is a background service that modifies browser settings in order to lead a user to a particular web site, whereas Hotbar is a dynamic toolbar that displays targeted pop-up ads based on its monitoring of a user's browsing activity.

In the UK, Trojan downloader Win32/Renos comes in sixth with 4.5% but in Germany, it represents a more concrete threat and was the second most common malware detected (7.6%). It was followed by ZeuS (Win32/Zbot) at 6.9% and Conficker at 5.2%. Microsoft found key generators (keygens) for commercial applications on 4.2% of computers in Germany.

Zoom Since the third quarter of last year, Java has been by far the most common target for attacks.
Source: Microsoft
Attackers have seemingly rediscovered Java as an entry route over the last year. The third quarter saw a ten-fold increase in attacks aimed at Java. This high level was maintained in the fourth quarter, making Java by far the most common target for attacks. 85% of Java attacks attempted to exploit the vulnerabilities CVE-2008-5353 and CVE-2009-3867. Attacks on Windows in the third quarter also increased dramatically as a result of two operating system vulnerabilities, though Microsoft declines to specify which two vulnerabilities.

In a post on the TechNet Blogs, Microsoft Malware Protection Center General Manager Vinny Gullotto says that the company succeeded in purging nearly 19 million computers of scareware in 2010, noting that the Microsoft Security Essentials software surpassed 30 million active subscribers after one year of availability. "Through collective efforts – such as the sharing of threat intelligence and guidance, software providers making advancements in security protections and customers keeping their systems up to date – we can help minimize cybercrime and create a safer, more trusted computing experience for everyone", added Gullotto.


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