Cross-platform malware risk growing

A new breed of sophisticated, online attackers are targeting their malware to breech fixed, mobile and social networks, putting pressure on service providers to review security policies to counteract the growing threat of attacks spanning multiple mediums.

Messaging security provider Cloudmark sent a warning this week about the increased risk that multi-faceted attacks or "converged threats" pose.

Cloudmark has discovered new, advanced threat techniques that combine spam, phishing and malware into a single attack distributed across e-mail, the web, mobile devices and social networks.

"Convergence is everywhere, including in the online attacker community," Cloudmark chief technology officer Jamie de Guerre said in a statement.

According to Cloudmark, these attacks look for holes in traditional security solutions designed for a specific type of attack, such as a spam for a specific medium like e-mail, evading traditional security because they mash-up elements of spam, phishing and viruses.

Cloudmark has identified several new converged threats including "Smishing," a mobile phishing attack that usually uses VoIP phone number accounts stolen by email phishing attacks to stage the mobile breech.

Cloudmark also found what they call a "crush" attack, distributed through SMS messaging, email and social network communication, crush attacks entice users to log into a Webpage and unknowingly opt in for a premium rate SMS service by telling users "Someone has a crush on you!" followed by a link.

It also found that modern email viruses no longer distribute viruses as an attachment; they instead host the virus on a separate website and distribute emails that link to that Website.

Cloudmark's findings are congruent with managed security services provider MX Logic's threat forecast that predicted more sophisticated attacks.

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