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Malware remains number one threat in UK

28/05/2015 by


It has been revealed that malware remains the largest cyberthreat to consumers and banks within the UK. In its first ever report, Britain’s computer emergency response team (CERT-UK) said that the Zeus banking trojan, in particular, continued to be a prevalent problem.

With online crime increasingly common, and many companies keen to do all they can to avoid catastrophic breaches, being well prepared is key. Collating data from between April 2014 and March 2015, CERT-UK said there were 2.6 million Zeus infections across the UK. This was followed by 1.8 million ZeroAccess search-engine-poisoning malware infections, 816,000 instances of Conficker banking malware and 112,000 Sality malware attacks.

Whilst Zeus was found to be the most prominent piece of malware, early indications from CERT-UK are that, for now, the number of infections has fallen. The number fell after Operation Tovar began a targeted effort by law enforcement agents to crack down on the software. Towards the end of 2014 the number of infection instances declined, though experts largely expect these to rebound soon, with CERT-UK saying: “We will see another type of malware come to the forefront in the coming year … This may already be Dridex, or Dyre two major concerns particularly to the financial sector.”

Brian Honan, a Dublin-based IT security consultant, explained that it was “no big surprise” that criminals continue to widely use malware rather than constructing large, targeted hack attacks. “Lots of automated worms try to compromise vulnerable systems, and Zeus is one of the most virulent families of malware with numerous variants so it is heavily used by criminals,” he said.

CERT-UK was officially launched in March 2014 as part of the UK’s National Cyber Security Strategy. Led by the former director of Citi, Chris Gibson, the organisation’s responsibilities include promoting “cybersecurity situational awareness”, a national level of cybersecurity incident management, providing help and support to critical infrastructure companies, and offering security incident response if required. It also provides a single point of contact for CERTs from other countries, helping experts to disseminate and share crucial information. 

Mr Honan explained that it is not the first time the UK has had such a body, saying: “The UK has had a number of CERTs in existence over the past number of years, so it is not as if the UK has not been served by CERTs in the past. CERT-UK is now the national CERT for the UK. This is a result of an EU directive that required all member states to have a competent national CERT in place.”

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