Malware is dangerous because it is invisible and persistent: Trend Micro

Security vendor finds that malware is now about infiltrating and stealing, and not about damage

The problem with sophisticated malware is that it tries to be invisible and persistent for as long as possible, according to Trend Micro global chief technology officer, Raimund Genes.

To back up his claim, Genes points to a report from Trustwave that sets the average time from the infiltration and breach of corporate resources until detection at 210 days or longer.

“In the case of RSA Security’s breach [in 2011], the malware was inside of their environment for more than half-a-year,” Genes said.

“They are a security company, so they had antivirus and online security, but they did not detect the malware for that entire time.”

Genes also refers to the case of the PlayStation Network breach in the same year, when 110 million users data was compromised following a hack into a Unix server that diverted online traffic.

“It took some time to transfer the information, so the attack was both persistent and sophisticated,” he said.

This is the situation the business world is facing right now, but Genes said traditional security products are not good at protecting against these types of sophisticated attacks.

“When we look at traditional malware, you will eventually have a service interruption,” he said.

“However, since the goal is to infiltrate and steal information, that is no longer applicable.”

Mobile dilemma

Genes admits that targeted attacks have been around for a long time, but the difference is that no one was talking about malware in the mid-2000s.

“Stuxnet was a targeted attack in 2010, and since 2011 we have seen an increasing number of mobile attacks,” he said.

Just as the security and IT industry as a whole is benefiting from reading reports from analysts, Genes said hackers are reading those very same reports and are recognising that Android is a dominant mobile platform.

“So if you really want to be safe from a mobile perspective, you could use a BlackBerry, as it is pretty safe by design,” he said.

“Or you could use Windows Phone 8, because it has only two to five per cent market share and nobody will attack it.”

Patrick Budmar covers consumer and enterprise technology breaking news for IDG Communications. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @patrick_budmar.

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