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November 23, 2010

CLOUD COMPUTING: AntiVirus in the CLOUD?

             Practically all of the major antivirus companies have started using in-the-cloud technologies or are planning to use them in the nearest future. Despite the undoubted advantage with regard to the struggle against attacks, in-the-cloud technologies are themselves sure to be a prime target for the cybercriminals.

The eternal conflict between virus and antivirus has, up to the present moment, been largely going on at the level of files and processes on the end users’ machines. Malware programs have been trying to destroy the antivirus system by different means or attempting to persuade the user to switch it off themselves.

With the beginning of cloud- technology detection and categorization, a new front has opened up in this war. Malware programs, or to be more precise – their authors, will have to solve the problem of attacking the cloud. Although technologically it is practically impossible to destroy the cloud, direct mass DDoS attacks aside, it is quite vulnerable in terms of its own functionality - receiving, processing and sending information to and from the end users.

Problems within the very architecture of the majority of antivirus clouds will be actively used by the cybercriminals, and the first examples of such actions can be seen already. The most widespread and simple method of disabling cloud technologies is to block computer access to the cloud. More complex methods include the substitution of data –with the aim of ‘trashing’ the cloud with false information, as well as modification of the data received from the cloud.

Such ‘trashing’ is probably the most dangerous threat. Blocking access to the cloud or the modification of responses from the cloud specifically affects only infected users, but inputting false data into the cloud
will influence every single user. This would bring with it not only an absence of detection, but also to a more serious problem – false positives, which would lead to a general decline in the level of trust in cloud-based technologies and to the necessity to revise or alter their performance algorithms.

With the increase in the number of antivirus technologies that operate using in-the-cloud technologies, there will be a constant quantified and qualified growth in the number of attacks upon them from malware programs on clients’ computers, and additionally with the help of special services, supported by the cybercriminals.

GLOOMY STATISTICS.

A fake scanner based on Javascript looks quite genuine to an inexperienced user
            There are many types of malicious programs designed to scare people into buying a licence for a worthless program usually for windows. Their names may differ depending on the functionality and the way of packing/compressing the binary files. Thus, rogue antivirus programs may be contained in, among other examples, the following signatures: not-a-virus:FraudTool (this program is ascribed to the ‘not a virus’ category due to the lack of a malicious payload, apart from its attempts to persuade users to pay money for a nonfunctioning application), Trojan.Win32.RogueAV, Trojan.Win32.FraudPack or Trojan-Downloader. Win32.Agent.

The diagram refers to FraudTool signatures and shows the Top10 rogue antivirus programs. Due to the huge number of signatures it is difficult to tell for sure just by the name whether a particular malicious program represents a group of rogue antivirus solutions or not.

A bogus YouTube website. A false message informs the user that it
is necessary to update their copy of Flash Player. Cybercriminals
often covertly insert malicious programs into a user’s system by
this method, any one of which may be a rogue antivirus solution
In total, there were 266,090 victims of FraudTool.Win32 in all of the countries. First place goes to Vietnam with over 120,000 cases of FraudTool.Win32 infection.

A study shows the number of malicious programs detected on particular days for the period from March to June. From mid-March, the number of infections has systematically decreased. In March, there were 192,000 infections in total, in April 150,000, in May 135,000 and between 01 and 17 June 58,000 infections, which indicates that the number of infections in June will probably be even smaller than in May. However this fact only proves that like everyone everywhere, cybercriminals also like to take their vacations in summer. As with other malware distribution, scareware peaks in spring, autumn and before New Year.

Microsoft as the biggest software vendor is engaged in a campaign against this type of fraud also. Its website informs visitors how to remove an unwanted program and how to tell the difference between a false version of Windows Defender and the real one,which is built into the Windows system.

Summary:

Rogue antivirus programs are quite successful, which seems to be confirmed by the fact that cybercriminals look for new methods to entrap unwary users. Cybercriminals are getting better and better at making their products similar to known security applications. As a result, companies lose the trust of their customers, whilst the customers themselves, quite apart from money, can lose passwords and logins to bank and email accounts, social networks, etc. This means that the identity of the victim is under threat. We can easily predict what will happen next. With a new ID, a cybercriminal can open a bank account in somebody else’s name and use it with impunity, as it is the victim that will be responsible for the cybercriminal’s actions.

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