Vulnerabilities / Threats
12/6/2012
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Slide Show: Top 10 Malware Advances In 2012

Blackhole's business model, Flashback's Mac fetish, ransomware's resurgence with Reveton, and Gauss' ability to guard against analysis among the game-changers this year
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It's frequently said that cybersecurity is an arms race, with defenders constantly adapting to attackers, and attackers finding ways to better evade their target's defenses.

For malware in 2012, the analogy is an apt one. Malicious programs continually evolved in 2012, whether using new technical approaches to infection, novel business models, or demonstrating the vulnerability of areas thought unrelated to cybersecurity. Flashback demonstrated that the Mac OS X had become a viable target for cybercriminals, while the Blackhole Exploit Kit refined the crime-as-a-service business model.

Malware also became a tool of nations in 2012, in many cases aimed at gathering intelligence in the Middle East. While previous years had hinted that nation-states would develop malware as one weapon in their arsenal, half of this year's list of malware was used for political aims. The Da Vinci Trojan illustrated that governments had taken to buying malware for surveillance, while Flame and Gauss hinted at what well-funded adversaries could accomplish. Many other malicious attacks had political aims, even if they were not carried out by governments, says Liam O Murchu, manager of operations for Symantec's security response group.

"We are seeing different motivations coming into play -- that is, revenge or hacktivism," Murchu says. "We don't see the attacks done for as much of a profit motivation, but for political reasons."

Graphic: Kaspersky Lab

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