Study: Malware Threat Explodes

Recent reports predict that new and sophisticated forms of malware will challenge the security industry's ability to stay ahead of emerging threats.

Recent reports predict that new and sophisticated forms of malware will challenge the security industrys ability to stay ahead of emerging threats.

A study from McAfee Avert Labs claims that the technology used to cloak some malware, especially rootkits, is becoming increasingly complex and harder to detect. The report also found a growing tendency toward collaboration among hackers.

The number of rootkit attacks being reported to McAfee Avert Labs was up by 700 percent during the first quarter of 2006, compared with the same period in 2005. Rootkits are increasingly being written to attack Windows systems. McAfee said Windows-oriented rootkits increased by a staggering 2,300 percent between 2001 and 2005.

McAfee contends that a primary driver behind rootkit proliferation is the growing collaboration among virus writers, including the misuse of materials published on resource Web sites dedicated to helping people fight the programs. Some of these sites, such as Rootkit (, contain hundreds of lines of rootkit code and may be doing more harm than good, McAfee officials said.

Jamie Butler, an administrator and malware code contributor to Rootkit since 2001, said the information available on the site can be found elsewhere and that Rootkit has no plans to stop publishing code.

In a separate research report, anti-virus software maker Kaspersky Lab identified a handful of evolving threats that it said could serve to trouble IT administrators in the future, including at least one proof-of-concept attack being tested by hackers that could challenge network defenders.

The program reportedly locates itself in a computers boot sector and gains control of the device prior to the launch of its operating system. Because the attack is introduced in this manner, Kaspersky officials said, the program is able to modify many operating system functions.

Another trend highlighted in the research is the growing popularity of malicious programs being created specifically to attack Apple Computers Mac operating system.