IM Worm Blitz Continues

Threats to instant messaging clients and networks continued to climb in May, a security firm said Tuesday, a trend that's been plaguing users since the beginning of 2005.



Threats to instant messaging clients and networks continued to climb in May, a security firm said Tuesday, a trend that's been plaguing users since the beginning of 2005.

According to instant messaging security vendor Akonix, its Security Center researchers tracked 51 new IM and peer-to-peer (P2P) threats during May, more than half of the total recorded for the entire first three months of 2005.

"As we've seen since the beginning of the year, IM networks have been on the receiving end of an unprecedented barrage of security attacks," said Francis Costello, Akonix's chief marketing officer, in a statement. "Virus writers, hackers, and scammers are becoming more sophisticated in their approach to vulnerable, insecure IM clients and networks, distributing not just viruses and malware, but putting together blended attacks and phishing scams."

During May, Akonix posted alerts for seven variants of the MSN Messenger-targeting Kelvir worm, six of the Opanki worm that attacks America Online's AMI client, and four of the Oskabot worm.

Akonix isn't the first IM security vendor to broadcast the dramatic up tick in instant messaging threats during 2005. In March, IMlogic said its data showed those threats increasing by 50 percent each of the first three months. One variation of Kelvir hit Reuters' instant messaging service so hard in mid-April that the network was shut down for nearly 24 hours.

Like rivals FaceTime and IMlogic, Akonix maintains a Web-based list of IM threats that's supported by partners such as Microsoft, Yahoo, IBM, and Symantec.

FaceTime's IMpact Center is the only of the three that posts a cumulative threat rating, however. Currently, that index is holding steady at "7" out of a possible "10," indicating that "high-risk IM- and P2P-borne malware is in the wild."

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