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Issue of November 2003 
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‘Blended threats are a serious issue’

In its latest Internet Security Threat Report Symantec says that the increasing prevalence of blended threats, which use a combination of malicious code and vulnerabilities to launch a cyber attack, remains one of the most significant security issues companies face this year. Blended threats accounted for 60 percent of malicious code submissions in the first half of 2003, and the number of blended threats increased by 20 percent. Blended threats continue to be the most frequently reported threat.

The speed of propagation of blended threats is also increasing. For example, the Slammer worm impacted systems worldwide in less than a few hours. Moreover, for a time, the recent Blaster worm was infecting as many as 2,500 computers per hour. Symantec expects to see greater worm propagation resulting in overloads to network hardware, crippling network traffic, and seriously preventing both individuals and businesses from using the Internet.

With the release of the current report, Symantec provides analysis of attacker vulnerability preferences for the first time. This new analysis shows that 64 percent of all new attacks targeted vulnerabilities less than one year old. Additionally, 66 percent of all attacks documented in the first half of 2003 utilized vulnerabilities categorized as highly severe.

Recent activities support Symantec's analysis that the time from discovery to outbreak continues to shorten significantly. The W32.Blaster blended threat occurred only 26 days after the vulnerability was announced.

 
     
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