Symantec releases new IT security report

IT security firm Symantec on Tuesday released the findings of its MessageLabs Intelligence 2010 Security Report, which shows that cyber criminals are varying their tactics to continue the spread of viruses and malware.

According to the report, spam rates peaked in August at 92.2 percent due to the emergence of the Rustock botnet. For the year, however, the average global spam rate was 89.1 percent.

In 2011, Symantec predicts that botnet controllers will begin utilizing “steganography techniques,” which means that they will hide commands in plain view, perhaps within images or music files distributed through file sharing or social network sites.

As spam continues to flood the e-mail inboxes of computer users around the world, so to do viruses and other malware. According to the report, over 115 million e-mails were blocked by computers running Symantec software in 2010, an increase of more than 58 percent over 2009. More than 339,600 different malware strains were identified in those blocked e-mails, representing a hundred-fold increase from the year prior.

With regards to malicious websites, Symantec reported that the average number of websites blocked per day rose from 2,465 in 2009 to 3,066 in 2010, an increase of 24 percent. The company identified malicious web threats on nearly 43,000 web domains, the majority of which were compromised legitimate websites.

"With successful and resilient botnet operations established in prior years, the cyber criminals experimented with many tactics to keep spam campaigns active and fresh this year," said Paul Wood, MessageLabs Intelligence senior analyst, Symantec Hosted Services. "From leveraging newsworthy events like the FIFA World Cup to taking advantage of the widespread popularity of URL shortening services and social networks, the spammers deployed a variety of tricks to bypass spam filters and lure potential victims.”

To learn more about the dangers that botnets pose to corporate networks, read SIW Assistant Editor Joel Griffin’s Industry Surveillance blog for an exclusive interview with Symantec Hosted Service Senior Software Engineer Martin Lee. For more information about Symantec or the MessageLabs Intelligence 2010 Security Report, visit