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IM malware threat skyrockets

Virus writers are setting their sights on IM users, with 30 serious threats already detected in 2005
Written by Dan Ilett, Contributor on

Reports of malware, spam and hacking attacks over instant-messaging (IM) services are up 50 percent this year, according to figures released by security company IMLogic's threat centre this week.

IMLogic reported that more than 30 new threats have emerged since 1 January, 2005 that target IM users, including viruses, worms, and spam over IM — often referred to as spim. IMLogic has issued 12 priority alerts to subscribers and customers in the last 30 days.

"IM viruses and worms are growing exponentially," said IMlogic's chief technology officer, Jon Sakoda. "Virus writers are now shifting the focus of their attack to instant messaging, which is seen as a largely unprotected channel into the enterprise." The company found that 81 percent of reported incidents included IM virus or worm propagation, of which 10 percent were able to hijack file transfers. Thirteen percent of incidents used known exploits, and 70 percent targeted Microsoft's MSN service.

Yahoo followed behind with 18 percent of reported incidents and AOL and ICQ shared the last 12 percent.

The Kelvir, Bropia, and Bizex worms were reported as the top three most frequently detected IM infections in corporate environments.

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