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Summer survey results of hacker activity

Vasco : 05 September, 2008  (Technical Article)
Internet threat survey indicates reduction in spam during the summer holiday period with an increase in the number of active viruses being distributed
Vasco Data Security International announces the results of its aXs Guard Gatekeeper Internet Threat Survey. Vasco surveyed 400 small and medium sized enterprises with 5 to 250 internet users during the month of July 2008, revealing malicious activity during the traditional European holiday season. aXs Guard Gatekeeper is an authentication and internet security appliance, making use of Vasco's core authentication technology.

The results of July 2008 are weighed against May 2008 and the major trends reveal to be:,

* During the summer more different types of viruses are active.
* Spammers seem to be on holidays.
* Internet surfing is on the rise.
* Slight decrease in spyware.
* Slight increase of phishing attempts.

During the month of July 2008 we see that the amount of active viruses has increased with 25%, whereas the number of virus attacks has more than doubled compared to May 2008. The survey also revealed that newly created viruses immediately score very high and are among the top 10 most frequent viruses during that period. The increased presence of viruses could be explained by less vigilance due to reduced staffing of ICT departments during the holiday season. We can conclude that in order to battle this trend, automated solutions, such as aXs Guard Gatekeeper, are necessary to maintain the same level of vigilance throughout the year.

Furthermore, the survey reveals that spammers are also on vacation. We see a decrease of 25% in spam blocked by the aXs Guard spamfilter, combined with an increase of detected spam robots and blacklisted clients. We see an increase in detected spam robots and blacklisted client because due to holiday season spammers continue to use their 'old' spam bots and ip-adresses, which can more easily be detected and stopped by the aXs Guard Gatekeeper blacklists.

People also seem to have more time on their hands. This was detected from an increase in surfing behaviour in July 2008 compared to May 2008. In regards to predefined blacklisted websites, such as porn, gambling and violent content, we see a slight increase in surfers trying to visit this type of content during the month of July 2008. However, we see a decrease in attempts to visit websites which companies block on a company to company basis, such as YouTube, Facebook and others. Once employees have figured out that certain websites are blocked as a result of company policy, they no longer try to visit these sites.

A positive development is that people seem to become more aware of the damage which can be done by spyware. In July 2008 the blocked spyware attempts dropped with 5% compared to May 2008. However we also noted a small increase in phishing attempts. Phishing asks for increased security measure when making financial transactions online. Vasco offers a whole array of products to protect financial transactions from being intercepted by phishers.

aXs Guard Gatekeeper is an all-in-1 solution (24 different applications in one) for Internet communications and security. aXs Guard Gatekeeper consists of different modules, including Digipass strong user authentication, VPN, firewall, anti-virus, hacker detection, statistics & reporting, content scanning and more. Situated between a company's LAN and the Internet, aXs Guard Gatekeeper exists of a mix of hardware, software and support. The product is completely customizable, making it an affordable solution to SMEs and large organizations. aXs Guard centrally manages and secures surfing, e-mail, VPN connections between subsidiaries and remote access for home workers, website hosting, etc., while protecting against viruses and other internet risks.

According to Jan Valcke, President and COO at Vasco Data Security: "Surveys such as our aXs Guard gatekeeper survey are necessary to demonstrate the vulnerability of companies on the internet. Surveys as these clearly indicate that all companies, including SMEs, are vulnerable for internet fraud. Holiday periods can be potentially dangerous considering certain companies are less vigilant. However, our sample demonstrates that SMEs increasingly are investing in protecting themselves from online attacks. We could not stress more the importance of automated solutions which ensure companies to have the same level of vigilance throughout the year."
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