Shape Shifting Malware Threat Reported by Swiss Cybercrime Operation

Author: Desire Athow
13 May 2008

In a media interview late last week, Marc Henauer, head of the cybercrime decision with the Swiss Justice and Police Department, said that viruses and other malware now have the capability to change their signature every few hours.

This, he said, means that the attackers are often one step ahead of protection software; Henauer's recommendation is that companies must change their approach to data security.

"Self changing code designed to dynamically evade recognition is a fact of life, it automatically adapts to the anti-spam and anti-malware engines that it encounters. Unfortunately the knowhow and construction kits used to create this shape shifting threat are now readily available and are unleashing a wave of shape shifting malware based on social engineering techniques. Highly targeted emails containing personalised information and shape shifting trojan attachments are the latest development and each positive infection increases the 'hit rate' for the next wave of emails sent out by the self learning automated engines used by sophisticated attackers", said Geoff Sweeney, CTO with IT Security firm Tier-3

"The days when a single IT security application is sufficient to protect an IT system are long gone. To defend against this onslaught a non rules based monitoring process must be set up that covers all ingress and egress points covering SMTP, DNS, HTTP(s), IM, etc. once this is in place defence against shape shifting threats becomes possible as well as the removal of any previously established covert data leakage channels that will be revealed and dealt with", Sweeney said.

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