Avalanche Returns, Malware Attacks Soar
The Avalanche gang has re-emerged and phishing attacks have soared, according to Internet Identity, a Tacoma, Wash.-based Internet security specialist.
IID said websites infected with malware increased 89% in the third quarter of 2011 from the second quarter, mostly because of a renewal of activity from the Avalanche phishing gang, which IID blamed for two-thirds of all phishing attacks in the second half of 2009.
Traditional phishing attacks, those using e-mails to trick recipients into logging in and giving up identifying information, are actually down, but malware that infects websites have soared, the company said in its Third Quarter eCrime Report.
The most impersonated organizations, IID said, include the FDIC, Federal Reserve, IRS and NACHA. Malware, once on a victim’s computer, can monitor or control activity, steal data, send spam and commit fraud.
“We knew Avalanche would resurface and it is apparent that they have made a conscious decision to provide their massive botnet as an infrastructure for hire. The most prevalent use of their network is sites that attempt to get victims to install malware on their computers,” said Rod Rasmussen, IID president and CTO.
Once malware is on a victim’s computer, the perpetrator can monitor or control both personal and business computer activity — enabling them to steal data, send spam, and commit fraud.
Criminals lure people in by creating appealing websites, desirable downloads and compelling stories, then trap unsuspecting victims, often through “drive-by” websites where malware automatically installs, Rasmussen said.
Money transfer and e-commerce phishing showed the largest areas of decline while phishing attacks impersonating national banks stayed strong, IID said, citing “significant security steps taken by Facebook, Google, Microsoft and others.”
“Cybercriminals are always trying to adapt to the latest security methods and threat awareness, and as an industry we must stay one step ahead of these increasingly sophisticated cyber gangs,” said Rasmussen, whose reports are drawn from his company’s experts as well as organizations such as ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers) and APWG (Anti-Phishing Working Group).