Zero-day viruses became commonplace in 2010

Zero day viruses became more and more commonplace last year, according to analysis by managed security firm, Network Box.

Zero day viruses became more and more commonplace last year, according to analysis by managed security firm, Network Box.

In 2010, Network Box identified more than three million new threats and says 3,083,018 threat signatures were released through the year to protect against new or variant threats.

The company notes that zero day viruses got their name because of the "zero" time between a virus coming out, and the vulnerability used by that virus being commonly known.

Although standard anti-virus technologies can cope with various threats, they failed to offer protection from zero day viruses.

'Z-Scan' protection

The security landscape is changing and virus writers have now begun to use Internet-based anti-virus sites to test their viruses prior to launch. As a result of this, a new virus can be released by its creator, immediately after being tested as not detected by any of the world's major anti-virus providers.

Network Box points out that they can offer the desired security to customers through its next generation protection called 'Z-Scan.'

Michael Gazeley, Network Box managing director, said there was a fall in the number of signatures per-update in 2010 and this indicates the continued move to cloud-based signature systems such as the Network Box Z-Scan.

"We expect this trend to continue, as traditional signatures continue to be the most effective against the depth and breadth of malware, while cloud-based signatures are emerging as the most effective solution for zero-day outbreaks," said Gazeley. "In 2010, the average Network Box blocked 471,304 spams and 25,089 malwares (down 24.1 per cent and up 23.9 per cent respectively, compared with 2009)."

Reduction in spam

Large-scale takedown operations have controlled botnet-based spam but in 2010, the spammers continued to migrate away from traditional Viagra-type spam to more sophisticated phishing and hoax attacks.

An increase in malware over the year reflects a greater level of sophistication on the part of the spammers. Network Box claims that it blocked a spam or malware once every 63 seconds during 2010.

This year, Network Box is set to launch a Network Vulnerability Scanning service that is expected to improve the protection it can offer to its customers.

Gazeley said the Network Vulnerability Scanning service will pro-actively scan networks for unauthorised servers/services.

Internet security has become very significant due to increasing episodes of cyber crime. A newly released report by Eurostat on Internet security in the EU region indicates that computers of one-third of the Internet users were affected with some or other form of virus.

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