IM Attacks on The Rise

Instant messaging security firms are reporting a dramatic rise in the
number of attacks.

Akonix Systems said the month of September holds the dubious
distinction of having the most attacks in any month this year at 64.

September figure follows a disastrous August in which Akonix reported a 200
percent increase in the number of IM vulnerabilities.

FaceTime Security Labs is also reporting a surge in the number of IM
threats. It discovered 87 threats on IM
and IRC-based networks in September.

“It seems like hackers go on holiday for the summer and come back with
fresh attacks in the fall,” Chris Boyd, director of malware research at
FaceTime Security Labs, told

Perhaps the hackers spent the summer brushing up on their coding skills, as
well. Boyd noted that the complexity of attacks is increasing.

“More interesting than the sheer number of threats, recent discoveries like Pipeline and Heartworm show increasing levels of sophistication on the part
of malware creators,” Boyd said.

“Pipeline went to great lengths to ensure
an installation, with complex download chains and a great focus on the
install method, rather than the files themselves.”

As with e-mail-borne worms and viruses, threats are now also motivated
primarily by financial gain, instead of fame or vandalism.

Boyd also noted
that modern IM threats aren’t designed to take down entire networks or
servers. Rather, they are stealthy in nature and designed to avoid suspicion.

“I’m actually more concerned when a rogue file activates and seemingly does
nothing,” Boyd said. “It’s always a sure sign that something bad is
happening beneath the surface.

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