Malware authors mixing a lethal cocktail

Security vulnerabilities will very soon be exploited within hours of their discovery, experts fear

Virus writers are combining their efforts with hackers and spammers to launch Swiss Army knife-like malware attacks on users, Kaspersky Labs warned this week.

According to Russian anti-virus company Kaspersky Labs, viruses are being used to infect PCs with Trojans, creating zombie networks that send out spam or participate in denial-of-service attacks.

"We cannot speak about viruses as a separate threat," said Natalya Kaspersky, chief executive of Kaspersky Labs. "They are mixed with spam, using Trojans to distribute emails. The 'bad' industry creates new technology and we need an instant response. Those people unite and exchange information."

The company said that it was seeing 200 new viruses a day. "[Virus writers] have resources and customers who pay them money for their work. These customers are not always robbers but definitely there is more money in the Internet, and we are forced to put more money in security as a result."

Kaspersky added that viruses were tending to spread using links, as opposed to last year when virus writers coaxed users into opening attachments. She said that the motive of virus writers was now to make money, not just to irritate users.

"Virus writers are cooperating," said Kaspersky. "They work in groups that exchange information with other groups on forums and Web sites. They even have tools to exchange information, which is a big problem for us. We need to cooperate to prevent this."

Kaspersky said the company expects that next year exploits will start occurring within hours of a vulnerability being announced.

"This is why vulnerabilities are so important," said Kaspersky. "We are against anyone who publishes vulnerabilities because it gives hackers a tool."

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