Increasing malware and lax security biggest fears for users: Sophos

Security vendor’s latest report reveals what users are really concerned about when going online

67 per cent of people worldwide feel that malware is now on the rise compared to what it was in 2010, according to security vendor, Sophos.

The recent report, titled Security Threat Report 2012, made the discovery after people were asked to identify what they consider to be today’s biggest threats on the Internet.

In addition to the revelation that 61 percent of people feel that the biggest threat online is users not doing enough to protect themselves, approximately 20 per cent of users are also convinced that scams on social networking sites are the top threat.

As cyber criminals continue to widen the focus of their attacks, SophosLabs vice president, Mark Harris, foresees that challenge for organisations is to keep their security capabilities from falling behind as they adopt new technologies.

“And as we continue to access information in different ways, from different devices in different locations, security tools must be able to ‘protect everywhere,’ from desktops to mobile and smart devices and the Cloud,” he said.

“But more importantly and oft disregarded, cyber criminals will continue to stalk the easiest prey, and security basics like patching and password management will remain a significant challenge.”

The report found, as many before it, that 2011 was marked by a rise in cyber crime, with the availability of commercial tools resulting in a significant growth in the volume of malware and infections.

Attacks by politically motivated “hacktivist” groups raised the awareness of cyber security last year, while the emergence of the LulzSec and Anonymous outfits ushering a shift from "hacking for financial gain" to "hacking as a form of protest."

In addition to SophosLabs finding an average of 30,000 newly infected web pages each day, indicating that almost no online portal is immune from threat or harm, the emergence of malware for the Mac took the limelight away from Windows malware in 2011.

“There's no doubt that the Windows malware problem is much larger than the Mac threat, but the events of 2011 show Mac users that the malware threat is genuine,” Harris said.

According to the report, 2011 also brought BYOD (bring your own device) into the spotlight as one of the newer causes of data vulnerability as employees began accessing sensitive corporate information from their home computers, smartphones and tablets.

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