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SurveyWatch: McAfee reconsiders predictions for 2007

Andrew Collins

McAfee might have to hand back its crystal ball, ratty shawl and baby-in-a-jar. Its released a mid-year review of its top 10 security predictions for 2007, comparing the predictions with what has actually transpired. The review has highlighted some deficiencies in its precognitive abilities regarding security threats.

Which is not to say that they were completely off base. The prediction that password-stealing websites would rise was spot on, with the number of such phishing websites increasing by a whopping 784% in the first quarter of 2007.

The increasing ubiquity of embedded video has also presented an irresistible target for hackers, as McAfee rightly predicted. In the review they cite one example of hackers using a Quicktime exploit on a video on the website of a French rock band to propagate a Trojan.

The foretold resurgence of parasitic malware also came to pass, with the Philis and Fujacks families alone spawning more than 150 variants this year already.

McAfee's prediction that the rootkit infection rate would rise was also vindicated. The number of computers infected with rootkits has increased to 200,000, which is an increase of 10% over the number in the first quarter of 2006.

A few of McAfee's predictions were off, though. Spam levels did not rise, and indeed image spam actually fell.

Legitimate businesses wised up to the terrible reputation of adware and ignored the temptation of jamming advertisements in software, despite McAfee's prediction to the contrary.

Usage of bots to gain control of users' computers has also diminished, though McAfee hastens to add that statistics on this type of cyber-crime are hard to verify.

The number of computers infected with rootkits has increased to 200,000, an increase of 10% over the number in the first quarter of 2006.

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