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Symantec: Rise in Data Theft

CUPERTINO, Calif. -- The latest Internet Security Threat Report released today by Symantec Corp. (NasdaqGS:SYMC - News) reveals that the current Internet threat environment is characterized by an increase in data theft, data leakage, and the creation of targeted, malicious code for the purpose of stealing confidential information that can be used for financial gain. Cyber criminals continue to refine their attack methods in an attempt to remain undetected and to create global, cooperative networks to support the ongoing growth of criminal activity.

"Symantec's Internet Security Threat Report gives our organization a detailed analysis of worldwide Internet threats, helping us monitor security risks and adjust our technology and protection processes accordingly," said Dan Lohrmann, chief information security officer for the state of Michigan. "Safeguarding sensitive information and the public's trust is essential for our support of Michigan agencies providing law enforcement, health care, and citizen service. The report's comprehensive data on the global threat landscape complements our department's security operations."

Symantec's Internet Security Threat Report Volume XI reveals:

  • Symantec reported more than 6 million distinct bot-infected computers
    worldwide during the second half of 2006, representing a 29 percent
    increase from the previous period. However, the number of command-and-
    control servers used to relay commands to these bots decreased by 25
    percent, indicating that bot network owners are consolidating their
    networks and increasing the size of their existing networks.
  • Trojans constituted 45 percent of the top 50 malicious code samples,
    representing a 23 percent increase over the first six months of 2006. This
    significant increase supports Symantec's forecast from previous research,
    which noted that attackers appeared to be making a shift away from mass-
    mailing worms toward using Trojans.
  • Symantec documented 12 zero-day vulnerabilities during the second half
    of 2006, marking a significant increase from the one zero-day vulnerability
    documented in the first half of 2006, increasing the exposure of consumers
    and businesses to unknown threats.
  • Underground economy servers are being used by criminals and criminal
    organizations to sell stolen information, including government-issued
    identity numbers, credit cards, bank cards and personal identification
    numbers (PINs), user accounts, and e-mail address lists.
  • Theft or loss of a computer or data storage medium, such as a USB
    memory key, made up 54 percent of all identity theft-related data breaches.
  • For the first time, Symantec identified the countries with the highest
    amount of malicious activity originating from their networks. The United
    States had the highest proportion of overall malicious activity, with 31
    percent; China was second, with 10 percent; and Germany was third, with 7
    percent.

"As cyber criminals become increasingly malicious, they continue to evolve their attack methods to become more complex and sophisticated in order to prevent detection," said Arthur Wong, senior vice president, Symantec Security Response and Managed Services. "End users, whether consumers or enterprises, need to ensure proper security measures to prevent an attacker from gaining access to their confidential information, causing financial loss, harming valuable customers, or damaging their own reputation."

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