Security Experts: Hackers to Become Better, Sneakier in 2007

Computer security experts say 2007 will see hackers and other computer criminals developing better and new intrusion methods.

Experts say computer attackers are writing increasingly sophisticated viruses and Trojans to hijack computers. The new viruses and Trojans can conceal themselves from basic virus scanners, allowing them to cause more damage.

Trojans have what is called root-kit capability, a feature that enables them to burrow deep into a system while evading detection. Although some virus protection companies have begun adding root-kit protections, such protections are not yet commonplace.

According to security experts, one method attackers employ to gain access to a computer user’s system is “social engineering.” Social engineering refers to a method of attack used by intruders who attempt to come across as a trusted entity, such as when an attacker attaches a malicious file to an E-mail that appears to be safe and friendly.

Oliver Friedrich, director of emerging technologies at security software firm Symantec, says 70 percent of attacks are delivered through Web-related applications.

Microsoft’s new Windows Vista operating system will feature several safeguards against viruses, spyware and other threats, Friedrich says. Such an operating system, however, will not replace anti-virus software, he adds.

A recent survey conducted by Pathlink, a patch management software vendor, reveals that more than half of Pathlink’s corporate customers believe the new Vista OS will be more secure than Windows XP.

The new operating system may also present new challenges in terms of required patches. According to the survey, 38 percent of Patchlink’s customers believe the new Vista OS will require more patches than Windows XP, while 15 percent believe it will not.

Also, two-thirds of those surveyed say they will spend more on computer security in 2007 than they did in 2006. The National Institute of Standards and Technology reported that approximately 6,500 vulnerabilities occurred in 2006.

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