Today, most users unknowingly become infected through malicious pages or unwanted links that exploit vulnerabilities in the computer, as it was mentioned a few days ago with a video demonstration.
But what are these vulnerabilities that cause so many problems?
In reality, any vulnerability regardless of software can cause problems, in the sense of being exploited by a remote attacker. But there are some in particular that are the most used by cyber criminals.
The following graph was published by Kaspersky in an annual report analyzing the main threats of 2012.
According to data collected through its products, 50% of attacks sought to exploit Java vulnerabilities. It is worth mentioning that Java is cross-platform and therefore its vulnerabilities also affect Linux and Mac, in fact at the beginning of the year a Trojan called Flashback infected more than 700,000 Macs taking advantage of a plugin vulnerability.
It is because of these high infection rates that it is highly recommended to uninstall or disable it from the browser.
The second place in terms of exploited vulnerabilities is Adobe reader, one of the most popular PDF file readers. Some time ago I posted a video showing how a computer could automatically become infected when opening a malicious PDF document with a vulnerable version of Adobe Reader.
The exploits (codes that exploit vulnerabilities) for these two programs – Java and Adobe Reader – are the most effective currently in attack kits. Although for Adobe they are gradually decreasing due to the security improvements that have been incorporated into the application, such as the sandbox from version 10 onwards.
In any case, it is not an invulnerable barrier and many recommend opening PDFs from alternatives such as Foxit or Sumatra PDF.
The third place with 3% of incidents is for some components of Windows and Internet Explorer, although generally these problematic vulnerabilities have patches that users don't install. In the report, they mention that two exploits actively used during 2012 exploited known and fixed vulnerabilities for years.
Fourth place goes to Flash player (2%), a plug-in that is found in practically all computers but that in its latest versions includes an option to be automatically updated, this has helped to avoid thousands of infections.
Lastly, 15% of the graph appear to be unidentified applications, whose exploits were detected with generic signatures. And it is also seen with 2% to Android, the most used mobile operating system today and also the most attacked.
The truth is that attack trends are closely related to the popularity of programs or operating systems. Well, the objective of cyber criminals is to make money and by infecting systems, they can do it in many ways, stealing information and taking advantage of their resources.
Report: Kaspersky: 2012 General Statistics