As the cyberthreat landscape evolved during the past several years, more individuals began installing antivirus tools on their computers to ensure no malicious software corrupted important documents and files stored on the devices. More recently, however, the cyber world changed, becoming more vicious and complex, making conventional data security solutions less effective against an onslaught of innovative web threats.
A new study on botnets by security expert Jim McKenney revealed that approximately 80 percent of computers infected by malware have antivirus software installed. In most cases these programs were disabled or crippled, while others simply did not meet expectations.
McKenney believes that this is largely because cybercriminals are no longer "snatch-and-grab" types. Instead, they will often sit and wait for the right opportunity to strike and use sensitive records to their advantage.
"We've seen botnets quietly watching activity for an average of eight months and building deep profiles of users," McKenney said. "These profiles are then used to access corporate networks, commit fraud and steal identities."
Malware is evolving and becoming more complex
At the 2012 RSA Conference in March, Microsoft celebrated the 10-year anniversary of its Trustworthy Computing initiative and unveiled a study on the evolution of malware. The report revealed that while there were approximately 1,000 malware variants in 1991, there are millions today, according to Dark Reading.
As more software developers create less vulnerable solutions, malicious outsiders need to develop more sophisticated programs capable of detecting and exploiting weaknesses. This has led to the evolution of socially engineered attacks that lure users with infected advertisements, attachments and the like, Dark Reading reported.
"I think some people get lulled into a false sense of security by having antivirus software," McKenney said. "The truth is hackers can get around antivirus software pretty easily if you don't have all your programs updated with the latest security patches. It's like building a fence and leaving your gate wide open."
As the threat landscape becomes more complex, it will become increasingly important that computer users in the workplace and at home conduct regular network audits to ensure data protection capabilities are up to par and able to withstand malicious attacks. This is especially true as mobility comes more into play and individuals use smartphones and tablets for day-to-day activities.
Data Security News from SimplySecurity.com by Trend Micro