McAfee Says 200 New Computer Attacks Per Minute

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As cyber warfare becomes increasing more popular, with Ukraine now under cyber attack, a new report from McAfee says every minute there are more than 200 new computer attacks using a variety of malware while a report by Dell Inc. (NASDAQ:DELL) says hackers can turn out 55,000 new malware variants each day.

Highlighting the type of attack that famously plagued the Target stores, where 40 million credit cards were compromised, the report, McAfee Labs Threats Report: Fourth Quarter 2013, noted with concern the increase in Point of Sale attacks.

McAfee says it understands Target credit card breach, says it was “far from advanced”

McAfee says that after cooperation with various agencies, it now “has gained an understanding of the exact malware used in this attack.” McAfee says the type of “off the shelf” attack on Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT) was a simple text file (above) and the class of attack was “far from advanced.”

The McAfee report noted that after stealing the credit card data they sold it in batches of one to four million at a time. “One popular credit card black market is the Lampeduza Republic,” the report noted. “Its well-organized hierarchy and documented constitution make for a disciplined and functional marketplace. Lampeduza’s network of sales websites is very active and contains many lots specific to these recent retail attacks. Thieves can pay for the stolen credits cards using one of the many anonymous virtual currency mechanisms, such as Bitcoin.”

In addition to Target Corporation (NYSE:TGT), Neiman Marcus, White Lodging, Harbor Freight Tools, Easton-Bell Sports, Michaels Stores were all impacted.

“We face a healthy and growing cybercrime industry.”

The report said criminals behind the campaigns are particularly dangerous and McAfee doesn’t see the issue going away anytime soon. “We believe these breaches will have long-lasting repercussions,” the report said. “We expect to see changes to security approaches and compliance mandates and, of course, lawsuits. But the big lesson is that we face a healthy and growing cybercrime industry.”

Mobile and “ransomware” attacks on rise

Computer hacking isn’t limited to the Internet. McAfee pointed to a significant increase in mobile malware and ransomware attacks.  The computer virus protection firm said they collected 2.47 million new Android sample attacks in 2013, a 197 percent increase over 2012. Ransomware, where the virus shuts down the application until the owner pays a ransom to the computer hacker, also saw such attacks double from the fourth quarter of 2012 to 2013, according to the report.

The report noted the trend is a component of a larger increase in cybercrime.  In the fourth quarter of 2013, for instance, there were a total of 200 million malware variants uncovered compared with 110 million malware variants found during the same period in 2012.

In a March 7 article, ValueWalk noted what government officials termed the most sophisticated attack against US and European government facilities in history.  Western intelligence sources believe the malware, which goes by the name Turla, is the handiwork of the Russian government, according to a Reuters report.  Based on tactics, technical indicators and the victims targeted, intelligence officials believe the computer virus is similar to that used in a 2008 massive breach on the U.S. military attributed to Russia, but such claims are not confirmed. 

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