Mobile traffic during the fourth quarter of 2011 increased 85 percent, indicating a dramatic rise in mobile use, according to results from cloud security company Zscalers fourth quarter State of the Web security research report. Apples iPhone and Google Android devices dominated mobile traffic, accounting for about 87 percent of such, while BlackBerry use fell sharply from 27 percent to 13 percent over the quarter.
On the social networking front, Facebook use increased by about 25 percent over the fourth quarter, while LinkedIn transactions decreased by almost 35 percent. Interestingly, overall Facebook usage declined over the year from 52 percent of all Web application use in the first quarter to 42 percent in the fourth quarter, a possible result of the drop in customer satisfaction throughout the year due to various security incidents.
The Zscaler findings noted some reports, such as Inside Facebook, have said that while the number of Facebook accounts have increased each month as new countries adopt the social network site, accounts generally show that Facebook account growth in the United States has continued, but may be slowing. The decline in enterprise transactions and general time on site means that there may be a decline in user interaction with Facebook, Zscalers report said.
The survey also indicated outdated plug-ins continue to be attack vectors. While ThreatLabZ observed that Adobe Shockwave was the most outdated browser plug-in during the third quarter, at 94 percent of all those installed, theres been a noticeable shift in the fourth quarter. Shockwave is down to 52 percent outdated of all installed, and Adobe Reader tops the list at 61 percent. Hackers are aware that large amounts of users continue to run outdated plug-ins, and use it as an easy attack vector, the report noted.
Botnets top fourth-quarter threats and comprised the majority of threats seen in December at 80 percent of Zscaler blocks. Malicious URLs followed far behind at 14 percent, while a mere 3 percent of threats blocked that month were identified by antivirus/signature detection. While enterprises seem to be doing a better job of patching certain applications, attackers continue to evolve their threats to stay ahead of patches, and to get around pure signature detection, the report said. The authors of browser exploit kits count on the fact that enterprises and consumers are slow to patch systems, and even in 2011, this proved to be a key driver for threats in the wild.
Browser market share also shifted as Internet Explorer use in the enterprise follows a slow decline, down to 53 percent in the fourth quarter from 58 percent in the third quarter. However, enterprises are moving to a more secure version of Internet Explorer, as Internet Explorer 8 (IE8) use more than doubled in the enterprise from 2011, from 26 percent of overall Internet Explorer traffic in January to 55 percent in December.
The report noted that enterprises are moving to newer and more secure Web browsers in general, but pointed out IE9 adoption remains very low. Meanwhile, Chrome usage saw a big jump from .17 percent of all Web browser use in the third quarter to 5 percent in the fourth quarter, while Safari saw a decline from 7 percent in the third quarter to 4 percent in the fourth quarter. Firefox usage remained constant, at 10 percent, the survey found.