Professional criminals taking over malware creation

Malware attacks directed against individuals or enterprises are increasingly motivated by financial gain, which has led to a higher number of increasingly dangerous attacks, industry experts warned today.

According to new research from Frost & Sullivan, virus writing and hacking are no longer perpetrated only by delinquent individuals but are now being committed by organized "cybercriminal networks." The analyst group warns that "fervent activity" on this front has led to a higher number of attacks, which can potentially cause harm beyond the disruption of computers and networks. It noted that awareness of this situation drives enterprises' and individuals' investments in anti-virus and other security technologies.

"Viruses have increased in spread and potency due to their 'underground commercialization,'" said Frost & Sullivan research analyst Katie Gotzen. "Criminal organizations are making greater use of malware attacks for financial gain and, hence, it is imperative for both enterprises and private users to protect against them."

Frost & Sullivan's report, World Anti-Virus Market, estimated that the anti-virus market earned revenues of $3.27 billion in 2005 and expects it to reach $7.49 billion in 2012.

The study also predicted that the imminent entry of Microsoft as a full-fledged IT security vendor will force established AV vendors "to pull up their socks" and start marketing their expertise and strengthening channel relationships.

Existing participants are likely to feel threatened by Microsoft's enormous marketing and branding power as well as its lower prices. Market prices for anti-virus solutions are expected to be driven down, creating turmoil in the consumer market, the study noted.

"Established vendors should position themselves along their expertise in the security market," added Gotzen. "In order to retain channel partners, as well as business and private customers, existing players should deploy loyalty marketing. Another option is focusing on growth in areas where Microsoft is not competing, such as security solutions for Linux."

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