Barrage of Viruses Hits in October

A record number of malware hit the Internet last month, but none were killer viruses.
A record number of viruses hit the Internet in October but, but none of them were wide-spread and dangerous.

''We saw more new viruses being written last month than in any month since our records began in the late 1980s,'' says Graham Cluley, a technology consultant for Sophos Inc., an anti-virus and anti-spam company with U.S. headquarters in Lynnfield, Mass. ''But even though these things are being written, it doesn't necessarily mean the problems are worsening. Most viruses don't successfully spread in the wild and cause a massive epidemic. They weren't worse, just more than ever before.''

Sophos reports 1,685 new viruses and variants came out in October.

And Central Command, an anti-virus and anti-spam company based in Medina, Ohio, also reports big numbers for October.

Central Command analysts updated 60 percent more virus signatures in October than they did in September, which did happen to be a relatively slow month, according to Steve Sundermeier, a vice president with Central Command. This past October also saw 35 percent more virus signatures than the same month in 2004.

''While we were busy in terms of the different variants, nothing really crazy and big came out,'' says Sundermeier. ''The number one [malware] on our list for October was Netsky-Q, which has been around since March of 2004.'' Central Command had name this variant Netsky-P, but recently has changed the name to Netsky-Q to better match up with other anti-virus vendors.

Cluley says the fact that Netsky-Q remains atop various threat lists, clearly shows that a major malware has not hit the streets recently.

''Normally, we'd expect that to be toppled off the top by another new worm,'' Cluley told eSecurityPlanet. ''But virus writers know when they write a big viruses, it draws attention to them, so they're writing more Trojan Horses instead. Trojans don't spread on their own... This makes it less likely to make headlines and less likely that the anti-virus vendors will focus on it.''

The Mytob-GH virus, which came out in the middle of October, is making the rounds and garnering some attention, Cluley points out. ''We think that will make a significant impact on the November figures,'' he adds. ''But it's no epidemic.''

For October, here is Central Command's list of the most prevalent threats:

  • Netsky.Q made up 13.64 percent of all malware circulating;
  • Mytob-IU -- 9.52 percent;
  • Mytob-MQ -- 8.25 percent;
  • IFrame-B -- 7.74 percent;
  • Mytob.MY -- 5.66 percent.

    At Sophos, they listed:

  • Netsky-P (also known as Netsky-Q) -- 17.2 percent;
  • Mytob-GH -- 8.1 percent;
  • Mytob-EX -- 5.7 percent;
  • Mytob-AS -- 5.4 percent;
  • Mytob-BE -- 5.3 percent.

    Sophos analysts report that nearly two-thirds of the viruses reported during the month were versions of the Mytob worm. They added in their written report that this month's chart consists of only three virus families -- Netsky, Mytob and Zafi. They say this indicates that virus writers are continuing to create variants of established threats, which prove most effective for financial gain.

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