|19 Aug 2013||#1|
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The professionalization of malware
The high-end of malware is reaching a new level quality that comes from it being written by professional organizations with real budgets and high standards. Be afraid.
For many years, anti-malware companies have been capturing immense numbers of new, malicious code samples every day. The actual number is controversial, but it's in the hundreds of thousands. Not a typo.
These samples are generated programmatically by malware authors trying, by brute force, to create something that will slip through defenses. Most of them are garbage. Anti-malware programs don't write signatures specific to them, but recognize them by more general characteristics as part of a malware family.
Roger Thompson of ICSA Labs, a security research group owned by Verizon, calls these 'AFTs' for 'Another Freaking Trojan'. The term is meant to contrast with APT for 'Advanced Persistent Threat'; there's no standard definition of APT, but basically it's a more sophisticated malware program which can hide in a target network and perhaps even defend itself.
I spoke with Thompson, who I have known for a long time from his pioneering work for several companies in the anti-malware industry. In a recent blog entry he notes a clear rise in the quality of malware at the very high end of the APT segment; he calls this Enterprise Malware because it is being written by enterprise-class organizations.
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