McAfee predicts surge in video malware

Security has warned that video downloads could pose a problem in the near future

Security vendor McAfee has predicted that the increasing popularity of video on the web will make it a future target for hackers.

The use of video formats on social-networking sites — such as YouTube — will attract malware writers, the company claims. As people become more reluctant to open email attachments from anonymous sources, hackers will target users who open media files instead.

The functionality of online video, which includes pop-up ads and URL redirects, will become "ideal tools of destruction for malware writers," claimed McAfee in a statement. "As video-sharing networks on the web proliferate, the potential capture of a large audience will incite malware writers to exploit these channels for monetary gain."

"In combination, these issues make malicious coders likely to achieve a high degree of effectiveness with media malware," the company said.

The so-called W32/Realor worm, discovered in early November 2006, launches malicious websites without user interaction, potentially exposing users to pass-capture malware on the sites. The so-called Exploit-WinAmpPLS installs spyware, but requires user interaction.

McAfee anticipates that businesses will prefer users not to download video onto work PCs.

"A lot of companies currently have verbal policies [prohibiting video downloads]," said McAfee security analyst Greg Day. "We expect more formal enforcement to come into place," Day added.