Blue Coat Systems today issued its Blue Coat 2012 Web Security Report that identifies and analyses trends in malicious attacks over the past year and makes recommendations on strategies to keep companies safe.
In 2011, the most significant evolution in the threat landscape was the use of malware networks, or malnets, to launch highly dynamic Web-based attacks. These complex infrastructures, which outlast any one attack, drove a 240% increase in the number of malicious sites during the year and are expected to launch as many as two-thirds of all new attacks in 2012.
Malnets are distributed network infrastructures within the Internet that are built, managed and maintained by cyber criminals for the purpose of launching a variety of attacks against unsuspecting users over extended periods of time. Malnets typically end up either stealing personal information or transforming end-user systems into botnets.
The Blue Coat 2012 Web Security Report details the strategies and tactics that malnet operators deploy to snare users and funnel them to dynamic malware payloads, or software which surreptitiously installs on users computers designed for malicious or criminal purposes.
“In 2011, the ease of buying, customising and deploying malicious software kits, coupled with a faster rotation through domain names, drove a 240% increase in malicious sites,” said Chris Larsen, senior malware researcher at Blue Coat Systems.
“With the average business now facing 5,000 threats per month, identifying and tracking malnets to block attacks at the source before they are launched is the most effective protection. Blue Coat uniquely provides protection from malnet-launched attacks even before they happen,” he added.
According to the report, the most common entry points into these malicious infrastructures are the paths of least resistance. They utilise entry points that are easy to exploit, such as search engines, email or other portals utilised by large, diverse populations of users. Malnets have become so effective at launching attacks through search engines and portals that one in 142 searches leads to malicious links.
The 2012 Web Security Report examines the malnet ecosystem in depth, examining user behavior, malnet strategies and tactics, as well as highlighting the best defenses against these aggressive infrastructures.
The report details the most common content categories for intentionally or inadvertently hosting malware, as well as malvertising attacks that funnel users into malnets via malicious Web advertisements. It also addresses the issue of Internet protection with the rise of social networking sites, and negative day defense as a protection against the dynamic nature of malnets.
In addition to this, it explores how the existence of these malnets is driving broader changes in the threat landscape, including the shift away from news-driven topics for search engine poisoning attacks and the significant increase in email attacks