December threats include focus on social networks, holidays

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

In December, computer threats in Latin America took advantage of social networks and the holiday season, according to a report from the regional branch of Czech anti-virus and security software developer Eset.

Eset Latin America's analysis and research lab said it received samples of a script file with the name Christmas that was used around the holidays in an attempt to steal security solution licenses. The file created a series of folders - similar to those used for peer-to-peer programs - which it used to copy and share all hard drive files with names related to licensing.

Another attack that appeared during the holidays was a mass email hoax distributed on Christmas Eve. The email promised gifts of US$1,000 checks. To obtain the checks, users had to click a link validating an active Facebook count. A message was then posted on the victim's wall, furthering the spread of the virus. According to Eset, the use of social networks for computer threats is becoming increasingly popular.

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Additionally, December saw two cases of rapid propagation of infection through Privacy Guard 2010 and Antivirus 2010. These rogue programs portray themselves as antivirus programs, typically through computer windows and pop-ups that warn of an infection.

To download the complete version of the false anti-virus software, victims are asked to pay a fee. According to Eset, these types of threats have been showing increased professionalism in their execution, with better graphics and translations into several languages.

In Eset's rankings of the biggest malware threats in Latin America in December, the INF/Autorun virus rose to first place accounting for 6.32% of all detections. That virus replaced Win32/Conflicker, which had retained the top spot for 10 months but was now ranked second with 4.61% of detections. Win32/PSW.OnlineGames stayed in third with 2.91% of detections, making it one of the most consecutively present threats in the ranking's top spots.