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UAE virus rate soars

Symantec September Intelligence Report shows increase in UAE virus rates, Saudi remains most spammed country

UAE virus rate soars
Symantec's September Intelligence Report reveals that the number of emails containing viruses or malware in the UAE has increased.

The number of viruses or malware seen by Symantec in the United Arab Emirates is up to one in every 183.2 emails in September, a large rise from one in every 314.3 emails in August and the Middle East figures have also risen to 1 in 221 from 1 in 662.9 in August, according to the Symantec September Intelligence Report.

Saudi Arabia remains the most spammed country, both in the Middle East and globally with a spam rate of 84%.

"This unprecedented high-water mark underlines the nature by which cyber criminals have escalated their assault on this region in 2011. While strong and commendable efforts are currently being made by authorities and government entities, it is imperative that enterprises and consumers take security into their own hands to combat cybercrime as it grows across the Middle East," said Justin Doo, security practice director, Emerging Markets for Symantec.

September also saw a deluge of malicious email-borne malware, of which approximately 72% could be characterised as aggressive strains of generic polymorphic malware, first identified in the July Symantec Intelligence Report.

At the end of July, this rate was 23.7%, in August it fell slightly to 18.5% before soaring to 72% in September.

Social engineering behind many of these malware attacks has accelerated, with new techniques adopted such as emails arriving that are supposed to be forwarded by colleagues from a smart printer/scanner.

September's spam levels remained fairly stable, but many spammers took advantage of vulnerabilities in older versions of WordPress blogging software on a large range of websites across the globe. The WordPress blogs themselves appear to not be compromised.

Spam emails containing links to compromised web sites are also being spammed out.

JavaScript is also becoming increasingly popular as a programming language abused by spammers and malware authors.  JavaScript is increasingly used to conceal where spammers are redirecting, and in some cases, also to conceal entire web pages.

"JavaScript is popularly used for redirecting visitors of a compromised Web site to the spammers landing page. While some of these techniques have been common in malware distribution for some time, spammers are increasingly using them," said Teksoz.

In September, the global ratio of spam in email traffic declined to 74.8% (1 in 1.34 emails), a decrease of 1.1 percentage points when compared with August 2011.

In September, phishing email activity diminished by 0.26 percentage points since August 2011; one in 447.9 emails (0.223%) comprised some form of phishing attack, while the global ratio of email-borne viruses in email traffic was one in 188.7 emails (0.53%) in September, an increase of 0.04 percentage points since August 2011.

Last month, Symantec Intelligence also identified an average of 3,474 web sites each day harbouring malware and other potentially unwanted programmes including spyware and adware; an increase of 1.0% since August 2011.

The automotive industry sector remained as the most spammed industry sector, with a spam rate of 77.8% in September, followed by the education sector at 77.2% and 74.6% for the chemical & pharmaceuticals, 74.4% for IT services, 74.3% for retail, 74.5% for public sector and 74.3% for finance.

The Public Sector remained the most targeted by phishing activity in September, with one in 125.8 emails comprising a phishing attack and the chemical and pharmaceutical sector had the highest rate of virus attacks at in 104.5.

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