RealTime IT News

IM Threats Bombard Systems

New security threats are bombarding instant messaging clients, thanks to a rise in scams for the second consecutive quarter.

The Akonix Security Center reported a total of 42 new threats aimed at corporate IM systems in July, which is a 24 percent increase over the previous month.

The group also issued 24 security policy updates, using dynamic IM malware, spim and protocol update systems to automatically push updates to customers and block worms and viruses at the network perimeter in real-time.

"In July we saw an IM vulnerability attack two different networks, which appears to be a new trend," Francis Costello, CTO of Akonix Systems, said in the report. "This shows that virus writers are continuing to focus on different methods of infecting public IM systems, becoming more creative and harmful. Corporations that have not adopted an IM security solution need to take action in order to keep these viruses from making them a statistic."

However significant the threat increase, it is a dramatic drop off from the explosion of the previous month. In June, technicians at the IM security outfit registered a 400 percent increase in threats targeting instant messaging and P2P networks.

That second-quarter increase, the largest hike since Akonix has been recording threats, saw hackers launching 53 new assaults, prompting the Akonix Security Center to issue 23 security policy updates.

This most recent report highlights five new IM viruses, in addition to numerous variants of existing worms discovered in previous months. Among the new viruses spotted were Rants, Prex, Kirvo, Hagbard and Lamar, according to the Threat Center.

Previous strands, such as Kelvir, Bropia, Opanki and Oscabot continued to evolve with updated malicious URL links and new messages to fool users into opening malicious Web pages.

"IM security continues to be a serious threat to enterprises around the world," Costello said. "July had the second highest number of threats since the beginning of the year, and there is no sign that this trend will slow down."

Costello cited the Rants virus, which has already propagated three times and is one of the first to spread across multiple IM networks, as the biggest concern of the new threats. He also cautioned organizations against leaving their network perimeters unprotected.

Threats to instant messaging have been on the rise and have been gaining popularity among scripters, as traditional hacks have become more apparent. The IMlogic Threat Center reported an increase in attacks through instant messaging clients from 20 in 2004 to 571 in the second quarter of 2005.