Web viruses down while spyware up

ScanSafe released its latest Global Threat Report on Web filtering, spyware and viruses. Among the report’s key findings, ScanSafe reported that Web viruses decreased 47 percent in September, despite recent high-profile Microsoft vulnerabilities, and that one in every 200 Web pages viewed in the workplace were YouTube pages.

The ScanSafe Global Threat Report is based on real-time analysis of more than five billion Web requests and more than 10 million Web threats processed by the company in September and represents the largest analysis of Web security threats based on real-world traffic.

With all the recent attention on Microsoft vulnerabilities and zero-day exploits, an increase in the number of Web viruses was to be expected.

However, despite the hype, a mass outbreak did not occur in September. In fact, none of the top 10 Web viruses blocked by ScanSafe during the month were exploits of Microsoft vulnerabilities uncovered in September, including the much publicized Vector Markup Language vulnerability. While these vulnerabilities were exploited, the exploits did not occur in high volume.

On September 20, reports surfaced of a new vulnerability in Internet Explorer specifically targeting a Windows component called vgx.dll. This component is meant to support Vector Markup Language (VML) documents in the Windows operating system. VML is used for high-quality vector graphics on the Web and is used for viewing pages in the Internet Explorer browser.

The company blocked 158 unique viruses during the month, 31 percent of which were new unique viruses – viruses blocked for the first time by ScanSafe. Zero-hour threats—attacks that appear before an anti-virus signature is available—accounted for 14 percent of all Web-viruses blocked by ScanSafe in September.

In addition to its data on Web viruses, ScanSafe reported that spyware and adware increased 21 percent in September and that 8 percent of the spyware blocks were to prevent already infected PCs from “calling home” or transmitting outbound to a spyware domain.

In addition to its statistics on Web-based malware, ScanSafe reported that during September one in every 200 Web pages viewed in the workplace were YouTube pages.