Top ten malware threats and hoaxes reported to Sophos in July 2006

July 31, 2006 Sophos Press Release

Sophos, a world leader in protecting businesses against viruses, spyware and spam, has revealed the most prevalent malware threats and hoaxes causing problems for computer users around the world during July 2006.

The information, compiled from Sophos's global network of monitoring stations, reveals that while the Netsky-P worm, first seen in March 2004, remains the most widespread piece of malware travelling via email, the actual proportion of infected email has dropped to a low of just one in 222 (0.45 percent). This compares to the first six months of 2006 when, on average, one in 91 emails (1.1 percent) carried malicious attachments.

Sophos identified 3,715 new threats in July, bringing the total of malware protected against to 184,007. The majority of the new threats (87 percent) were Trojan horses, while just 13 percent were worms or viruses.

The top ten list of malware in July 2006 reads as follows:

Position Last
month
Malware Percentage of reports
11W32/Netsky-P
   19.3%
22W32/Mytob-AS
   13.9%
37W32/Bagle-Zip
   9.7%
43W32/Nyxem-D
   6.3%
510W32/MyDoom-O
   6.0%
66W32/Zafi-B
   4.2%
78W32/Netsky-D
   4.0%
89W32/Mytob-C
   3.6%
9Re-entryW32/Mytob-FO
   1.7%
9Re-entryW32/MyDoom-AJ
   1.7%
Others 29.6%

The dramatic reduction in viral email traffic indicates that malware authors are looking for other methods of infection. Hackers are turning away from mass-mailing viruses and worms in favour of more insidious Trojan horse targeted attacks aimed at smaller groups of users, spamming out links to malicious websites, and attempting to steal money and identities.

"At a glance, the drop in the proportion of virus infected email may be misread as a sign that email is now a safer medium, but computer users and businesses shouldn't be fooled," explained Carole Theriault, senior security consultant at Sophos. "The reality is that the number of new threats is increasing by thousands each month. While there may be less viruses and worms in the actual email, hackers are spamming out messages that link to malicious websites where Trojan horses lie and wait for innocent victims. If businesses don't defend themselves they put their data, money and productivity levels at risk."

The top ten hoaxes and chain letters in July 2006 were as follows:

Position Hoax Percentage of reports
1 Olympic torch
12.8%
2 Hotmail hoax
10.6%
3 Justice for Jamie
4.5%
4 Bonsai kitten
4.0%
5 Meninas da Playboy
3.1%
6= Budweiser frogs screensaver
2.6%
6= Bill Gates fortune
2.6%
8 MSN is closing down
2.4%
9 Mobile phone hoax
2.3%
10 A virtual card for you
1.9%
Others 53.2%

Graphics of the top ten virus chart are also available.

Sophos's research into malware in July 2006 backs up trends it published in a report released a month ago, examining cyber crime in the first six months of 2006: