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Facetime forecasts increase in IM threats

FaceTime Communications : 28 September, 2007  (Technical Article)
Facetime issues report on 3rd quarter findings of P2P and IM threats along with gloomy forecast for 4th quarter
FaceTime Communications has announced initial results of its quarterly IMPact Report, showing a steady state of security incidents targeting public IM and P2P channels, according to FaceTime researchers. The company's Third Quarter IMPact Report will be issued on October 1, 2007.

As predicted, security incidents on these channels declined somewhat during the summer months, dropping slightly from 317 reported incidents in Q2, 2007 to an estimated 279 by end of Q3, 2007. This represents a 12 percent drop in quarter-on-quarter incidents, and follows a cyclical pattern noted by FaceTime researchers earlier this year in which attacks decline in the summer period followed by an upswing in the fall/winter months. The research team cautioned IT Managers and organizations toward continued vigilance over IM channels during the coming months. FaceTime researchers expect a total of 897 incidents year-to-date for the end of Q3 2007.

Attacks spread by the mainstream networks (AOL, MSN and Yahoo) continue to decline from a high of 74 attacks in Q1 to 64 in Q2 and now 53 in Q3 (as of Sept 24). Most of the decline in incidents is on the AOL and Yahoo networks; attacks disseminated on the MSN network have stayed at the same levels year-to-date. As a result, MSN's share of public-network attacks has increased from 38 percent in Q1 to 72 percent in Q3 of 2007. During this same period, AOL's share of public-network attacks has dropped from 38 percent to eight percent.

Internet Relay Chat (IRC) continues to account for the bulk of all incidents via all channels: 60 percent of all Q3 attacks were propagated via IRC, followed by P2P at 18 percent, MSN at eight percent and Chat with a six percent share.
In addition, the rise in single-channel attacks which were dominant and growing in share for the preceding six quarters has subsided. Single channel attacks have dropped from a high of 72 percent of all attacks in August to an estimated 57
percent for September.

During this most recent quarter, FaceTime researchers identified and reported on numerous incidents. The recent JT.Moonwalk worm, for example, was born from a Botnet that had been seemingly inactive. The worm propagated through MSN Messenger buddy lists with fake messages such as 'Look at me doing the moonwalk!!' and 'Look what I found, more nude pictures of Justin Timberlake!'
A variant of the Bubbles Worm spread through Skype contacts in mid-September, targeting teenagers that play Runescape with a Keylogger to track everything a user does on the PC. The user of key loggers is a primary means of identity theft. Details for these and other malware threats discovered by the FaceTime research team can be found on the Spy Ware Guide web site.

"Our researchers have a deep understanding of the methods and patterns of IM and P2P threats," said Frank Cabri, vice president of marketing and product management for FaceTime Communications. "This combination of qualitative and quantitative research means we can provide a better understanding of the threat landscape for IT administrators who must protect their organizations from the continued risks of malware infection through the use of real-time communications by their employees - whether detected by IT or not - on every corporate network."
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