Education sector most affected by malware

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During the first six months of 2010, academia was the sector most impacted by malware, according to a report issued Monday by anti-virus firm Trend Micro.

The report, which covers cybercrime incidents from January to June, states that 44 percent of all malware infections hit schools and universities, which often have "complex, distributed and diverse infrastructures."

Following education, the government and technology sectors each suffered 10 percent of all malware infections during the quarter. Manufacturing was the victim of six percent of all infections, and health care accounted for four percent.

Education was likely hit the hardest because of the large number of students using old and outdated software and visiting suspect websites, Jamz Yaneza, threat research manager at Trend Micro, told SCMagazineUS.com on Monday.

Meanwhile, the United States was consistently the main source of malicious URLs during the first half of the year — likely because of the high number of bot-infected computers in the country that are used to distribute infected URLs, Yaneza said.

Based on the total number of malware samples collected in 2009, Trend Micro estimates that a new piece of malicious software is created approximately every 1.5 seconds. In addition, estimates place the number of unique new malware samples introduced every day at more than 600,000.

Trojans made up approximately 60 percent of new signatures created by Trend Micro during the first half of the year, followed by backdoors and trojan-spyware. Further, the majority of trojans lead to data-stealing malware, the report states.

In terms of spam, the most notable trend was a significant reduction of junk mail emanating from the Asia-Pacific region and an increase from Europe, according to the report.

Regardless of its source, more than 95 percent of spam was written in English. And, a single bot-infected computer is capable of generating than 2.5 million pieces of spam per day, on average, the report states.

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