January at a glance: Vicious and Varied
The numbers are indeed concerning: 19 new email-born significant virus attacks, of which a troubling 8 (42%) were graded “low intensity”, 7 (37%) “Medium Intensity” and 4 (21%) were massive attacks & a rare phenomenon for a single month.
One outbreak of specific interest, consisting of 7 variants, illustrates how viruses are growing in sophistication: the first variant was launched around December 25th as a low intensity virus, however with subsequently released variants the attack’s intensity grew into a massive outbreak towards the end of the month.
The biggest virus attacks are the quickest & fast-moving solutions required
One of the factors measured by Commtouch is the speed of distribution. We consider attacks that peak within eight hours to have “short spans”, since it takes an average of 8-10 hours for a traditional anti-virus vendor to release an updated signature blocking a new virus.
Computer virus statistics from the Commtouch Detection Center indicate that 40% of attacks during January met this profile. Also, there is a clear connection between the attack’s speed and its intensity & the faster attacks are the biggest ones: while the average distribution time of low intensity attacks is a ‘leisurely’ 27 hours and medium-intensity attacks can take 17 hours, massive attacks take as little as 5.5 hours to spread in hundreds of millions of emails.
“The conclusion is clear” adds Lev. “Without a reliable solution for early hour protection that complements the old fashion anti-virus solutions, users are unprotected from the most massive attacks.”
Anti-virus engine statistics & is your AV up for the challenge?
Based in part on a reliable third party lab test, Commtouch was able to compare detection times of 21 leading AV engines against 19 new viruses in January. The results:
- On average, each AV completely missed 6.2 viruses (the attack was completed, and a signature was not yet available).
- The average response time to new viruses among all AV engines was 8.12 hours.
“The data should be of great concern to AV vendors and IT managers alike,” said Lev. “An eight hour response spells a simple truth & a traditional AV solution does not stand a chance against massive attacks that end before a signature is even released.”
Spam is physically sent primarily from the US
The Commtouch Detection Center monitors spam distribution patterns on a global level. January spam statistics show that 43.18% of global spam is sent from US-based sources (down from approximately 50%). China is also a significant ‘launching pad’ for 12.89% of the spam. Korean and German sources distribute about 4% of global spam, and the rest of spam originates from around the globe.
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