November a Record Month for IM Worms
November produced a record number of computer worms that spread over instant-message programs like AOL Instant Messenger, Yahoo! Messenger and MSN Messenger, according to the latest stats posted by San Diego-based IM security firm Akonix.
The company tracked more than a threefold increase in new IM worms this month -- 62 compared with 19 in October. More than a third of those IM attacks hit more than one public network, and eight of them were able to spread across all of the major networks.
Microsoft's network was the most popular vector for mainstream IM worms for the 12-month period ending in September, but starting in October AIM seized that dubious honor, Akonix said.
No doubt Akonix released this data to create buzz for its products. Don Montgomery, the company's vice president of marketing, said studies show that fewer than 5 percent of companies use some kind of virus-filtering software for their instant-message applications. Maybe that's because, as he acknowledged, most IM worms going around today carry little in the way of a destructive payload.
"Most are more of a nuisance than anything else, sending out copies of themselves to everyone on your buddy list," he said.
The IRC worms tend to be far more problematic and dangerous, seeding victims' PCs with nasties like Mytob, IRCbot, Rbot and SDbot -- programs designed to turn infected machines into "zombies" that attackers can remote-control for a variety of illegal online activities.
Still, I happen to agree with Montgomery that we will soon start to see the mainstream networks become a prime vehicle for spreading more destructive and invasive viruses and worms.
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