Akonix, one of the leading companies working in the IM security field, records 73% increase in instant messaging attacks from 2006. This year, the company has tracked 170 new IM malware samples. 20 new parasites were uncovered this month.
According to security experts, this major increase might be related to improving e-mail security practices in corporate networks. Powerful e-mail security solutions are being used in many businesses, and users have learned not to follow suspicious links in spam e-mails, while IM security is still weak. Don Montgomery, vice president of marketing at Akonix, said that only 15-20 percent of companies employ strong IM security.
Another reason is rapidly growing IM popularity. Instant messaging has already replaced traditional e-mail in many places. It's faster and much more interactive way to communicate. However, it's also less formal. Users often share links, photos and multimedia using IM, and they trust their buddies.
As Don Montgomery said, “people are more likely to click on an unknown URL in an IM that appears to be from a buddy that says “check out your picture on the Web!” than they are to click through e-mails with unknown Web addresses.”
Another alarming fact is that IM attacks are becoming targeted at specific countries. Latest malware sends message not only in English, but also in a variety of other languages. Add smart social engineering techniques and you will get rapidly spreading infection that easily compromises thousands of computers in just one day.
Sad, but true – in instant messaging you cannot trust even your buddies. Their systems might be infected, and all the links and files they send you might be dangerous. Every time you get a link in a message ask your contact for confirmation. It's an embarrassing, but sure way not to get infected.