Almost Every Victim Sees Unique Malware, Webroot Says
Nearly 97 percent of malware encountered on users' computers is unique, as criminals automatically generate variants in order to stymie defensive software.Every snowflake may be unique, but now, so is nearly every piece of malware, according to the latest report by security firm Webroot. Last year, 97 percent of malware encountered by potential victims was a unique variant, the culmination of a trend that started more than a half decade ago, the company stated in its Webroot 2016 Threat Brief. While no antivirus company relies only on signatures—also known as "hashes"—to detect malware, slightly modifying the malicious programs to foil the first line of defense is an easy step for attackers, Grayson Milbourne, security intelligence director for Webroot, told eWEEK. "From a hash perspective, each of those threats are unique to that particular endpoint," he said. "Those threats were only seen on the endpoint that recorded it." Overall, the amount of malware seen by end users appears to be leveling off. Webroot detected only a slight increase in malware as a proportion of all unique files executed by its users. The number of potentially unwanted software programs blocked by Webroot, however, declined by almost half. In part, the drop is likely due to efforts by the Clean Software Alliance, a group dedicated to preventing unwanted software installs.
"Because of the Clean Software Alliance, companies are doing a better job of leading people toward the legitimate source [of a desired program]," he said. "So the bad acting, pay-per-install groups are realizing that, if they are going to thrive, they have to act more like malware and evade detection. We see them using the same techniques now as most malware."