How rapidly is malware spreading? Researchers at German security firm G Data said that the first half of this year saw 12 new malware families a minute. Yes, that’s every 60 seconds
That means 3,045,722 new strains of malware were identified in the first half of 2015, slightly lower than the second half of 2014 but 64.8 percent higher than the first six months of last year, according to the researchers.
“We expect that the number of new malware strains will be well above the level of 2014,” G Data said in its report. “The total of all malware strains since 2006 is now 22,393,098.”
Over 43 percent of all “evil” Web sites are located on servers in the U.S., about the same level as in the previous six months, according to the report. But China has become more attractive as a host country and is now in second place, with 9.5 percent, while France (8.2 percent) has dropped to third place.
Banking Trojans Rising
More health care Web sites (26.6 percent) contained malware than any other in the first half of 2015. Meanwhile, the “personal advertising and dating” category is new to G Data’s top 10. Malicious Web sites in this category offer to install paid premium services or launch expensive phone calls.
The number of attacks carried out by banking Trojans is expected to rise in 2015 for the first time since 2012, according to the report. The Swatbanker family caused repelled attacks that reached an all-time high in March 2015 in the wake of successful e-mail campaigns. Its main targets were bank customers from Germany, Austria, and Poland.
“Previously, waves of attacks by e-mail had not been unusual for this Trojan, but this wave was so successful that in March 2015 the highest number of repelled banking Trojan attacks since records began was measured,” G Data said. “Also unusual was the fact that the wave did not stop within a few weeks as usual, but carried on until mid-June. Also, shortly before the wave of attacks ended, there was another unusual occurrence: the attackers apparently were targeting computers in the German Parliament’s intranet7.”
What’s More Concerning?
We caught up with Tim Erlin, director of IT security and risk strategy at advanced threat protection firm Tripwire, to get his take on the report. He told us the increase in banking Trojans is more concerning than the specific number of malware strains discovered.
“There’s a big difference between an unwanted, but harmless, application and one designed to steal money from your bank account,” Erlin said. “The increase in malware is an indicator of the growing cybercrime industry.”
As the potential for profit increases, there’s a corresponding investment in tools, which is often malware — and malware use increases because it’s successful, Erlin noted.
“Relying only on antivirus or a network-based tool to detect malware simply isn’t enough,” Erlin said. “Organizations have to take a more complete and more sophisticated approach to protecting their endpoints.”