NEW YORK and LONDON -- MessageLabs, the leading provider of integrated messaging and web security services to businesses worldwide, today announced the results of its MessageLabs Intelligence Report for September and 3rd quarter of 2007. The new data reveals that virus and phishing levels have significantly increased, reaching levels not seen since early 2006. In addition, MessageLabs exposes a second wave of highly targeted C-level and senior management email attacks with increased sophistication and outreach.
With a virus threat now incorporated within every 48 emails, cyber-criminals are steering away from using the more obvious attachment method of distribution and favoring the use of links to malicious websites hosting malware code. This technique, which increased in popularity by approximately 15 percent this quarter, enables social engineering-based attacks such as e-postcards to be utilized.
Mirroring the recent resurgence in virus attacks, the volume of phishing threats has also reached exponential levels this month with every 87 emails comprising of a phishing attack. Through the increased availability of phishing kits and the uptake of aggressive phishing techniques such as 'rock' phishing, the quantity and severity of these attacks are able to increase dramatically. 'Rock' phishing utilized a phishing kit which enables a single compromised computer within a botnet to host multiple phishing sites at the same time.
"The start of the new school year seemed to bring back an increase in old-school threats and in high volumes. With email more ubiquitous than the telephone and one in 48 emails containing a virus, most people are unwittingly receiving more than one virus a day," said Mark Sunner, Chief Security Analyst, MessageLabs. "As we enter the last quarter of 2007 and draw closer to the holiday season, the bad guys will be provided opportunity to disguise their attacks through the increase in genuine well-wishing emails and the anticipated upsurge in online shopping traffic. In addition, with the incessant rise of comprised machines through aggressive botnet activity, further spam level increases are anticipated."