Win7 infection rates rose during the second half of 2010 even as malware hit rates on XP machines declined, according to official statistics from Microsoft.
The latest edition of Microsoft's Security Intelligence Report shows an infection rate of four Win7 PCs per 1,000 in the second half of 2010, up from three Win7 PCs per 1,000 during the first half of 2010. The rise of more than 30 per cent contrasts with a drop of the infection rate, albeit from a much higher starting point, for older and less secure machines running Windows XP. Both figures were taken from scans using Microsoft's Malicious Software Removal Tool (MSRT).
Microsoft records a massive fourteen-fold rise in Java-based attacks during Q3 2010, as miscreants sought to exploit a pair of vulnerabilities prevalent at the time. These two vulnerabilities (CVE-2008-5353 and CVE-2009-3867) accounted for 85 per cent of all Java exploits detected in the second half of 2010. Operating system exploits, which have declined over recent months, increased significantly in Q3 2010, primarily because of exploitation of two Windows vulnerabilities, Redmond's security watcher notes.
The period also saw an enormous increase of 1,200 per cent in phishing using social networking as the lure, as social networks become lucrative hotbeds for criminal activity. Phishing using social networking as a lure increased from a low of 8.3 per cent of all phishing attacks in January to a high of 84.5 per cent in December 2010.
In addition, the Security Intelligence Report also charts a big rise in adware-based attacks. Two new strains of adware, JS/Pornpop and Win32/ClickPotato, were major contributors to this increase. Both strains of malware generate pop-ups on infected machines. In the case of Pornpop these pop-ups advertise smut sites.
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