MessageLabs Identifies Major Security Threats

Security management services provider MessageLabs released its first monthly intelligence report of the new year, which shows that the amount of spam has increased nearly 10 percent from the previous month, but virus-carrying e-mails are on the wane. However, the number of these and other threats such as phishing and Trojans are becoming far less significant than the nature of these forms of attack, said Mark Sunner, CTO of MessageLabs.

“I think there’s a trend that will play out through this year, and that’s the concept of targeted attacks,” he said. “What we actually observed throughout 2005 was kind of the refinement of the bad guys across the board. They’re definitely getting more adept. We saw botnets getting a lot smaller. In the beginning, botnets were about 100,000-plus machines in size, whereas now the average size is about 20,000 machines. The reason for doing that is they get to stay under the radar of the security community a little bit longer. Obviously, if you’ve got something that has a really big spread—something like the MyDoom of yesteryear—that gets on the radar very quickly and patches get distributed. Things are a lot more discreet now.”

The spam and phishing blasts that are emerging from the botnets also are becoming much more advanced, he added. “Far less now do we see the ‘splatter gun’ approach, where literally millions of e-mails are sent out pretending to be eBay or a certain bank. Now a much smaller run is sent out, and…



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