Bing! You have an instant message from a worm

IM security threats increased eightfold over the past year, as hackers target registry keys.

You might get more than a casual conversation if your jawing with instant messaging these days. IMlogic Threat Center announced that security threats, mostly worms, delivered via IM has increased nearly 1700% percent during 2005.

IM worms are the driving force behind this spike. These threats are particularly fast to propagate and mutate making them an attractive option for malware authors.

Recent threats this month include the myspace "talking worm" and the much publicized Santa worm. Traditional antivirus software kicks into high gear only after the initial infection. The real-time nature of IM and the onslaught of threats makes it very difficult to keep it with, illustrating the urgent need to cultivate new IM threat protections, IMLogic says.

From the Government Technology report:

"The growth in the level of sophistication and the advanced nature of the malware payloads such as root kits and information gathering agents sends a signal to IM users that IM security is no longer a 'nice to have' technology," said IMlogic Chief Technology Officer Jon Sakoda. "This rise in complexity and destructive nature of the threats requires organizations and individuals to put in place more adequate protections."

The center annouced these statistics in its most recent announcement:

  • IM threats in December 2005 grew by an additional 241 threats; adding to more than 300 for November 2005 and 292 in October 2005
  • In December 2005, 41 percent of new threats targeted AOL Instant Messenger, with 48 percent targeting MSN and 11 percent targeting Yahoo!
  • Worms made up 87 percent of new threats with viruses at 12 percent and phishing attacks over IM at one percent
  • First talking "intelligent" worm identified (IM.Myspace04.AIM).


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