Hacktivism and malware attacks on the rise in 2011 warn G Data

G Data publishes current report on cyber risks in 2010 and offer predictions for 2011

02/09/2011 | London 

G Data, the Internet security specialist and pioneer of anti-virus protection have today released the latest malware report and offer a forecast into 2011. The report predicts that politically motivated attacks on businesses by “hacktivists” will increase in popularity over the next year as activist are progressively taking their causes online.  In addition, G Data warn that criminals are increasingly targeting attacks and malware distribution on social networking sites.

Forecast for 2011

Hacktivism instead of street riots; social networks under fire

During what became known as ‘Operation PayBack’ politically motivated activists performed DDoS attacks against Swiss PostFinance, Mastercard, Visa, PayPal, EveryDNS and Amazon.  As a result of these attacks those companies’ websites were temporarily unavailable.

“WikiLeaks followers have exposed the effectiveness of politically motivated attacks on IT infrastructures. For political activists it seems that street riots and demonstrations are a thing of the past. The web generation uses the internet to get their message across,” states Eddy Willems,  of G Data Security Labs.  “G Data predicts 2011 will see the trend of hacktivism, cyber espionage and cyber sabotage gain momentum.”

The campaigns instigated by WikiLeaks followers could make a new form of free speech socially acceptable in cyber space. This may lead to a rise in the number of politically motivated attacks on businesses, political parties, governments and various institutions.

In addition to hacktivism, social networks will still be a popular focus of cyber criminals in 2011. The access to information and interlinking of services that used to be independent of each other allows for more effective attacks on individuals and organisations. Location services and URL shortcut services will play a bigger part in the business of malware distribution, more so than before.



On average, a new piece of malware for Windows-based PCs  is released every 15 seconds by cyber criminals .  According to the malware report, an increase was found in the number of malware that exploit security holes in the Java platform. G Data security analysts predict this pattern is not about to change in 2011.

“Java dominates the PC market. Almost 8 out of 10 PCs worldwide have a Java plugin installed. Cyber criminals have discovered that Java platforms tend to have security holes, this offers criminals  and opportunity for malware distribution”, says Eddy Willems.  “We expect a significant rise in the number of Java-based malware in the coming months. Users should install security updates as soon they become available to close any security holes in Java as quickly as possible.”


Results from 2010

Growth limitations

With as many as 2.093.444 different types, the year 2010 set a new record for new malware.  This figure far exceeds the 2009 result and shows an overall growth rate of 32% from the previous year. Despite this high number, the second half of the year saw a significant slowdown in growth. Compared to the first half of 2010, the growth rate plummeted to 6 % in the second half.

“The malware industry might have reached its growth limit. For distributors of malware, there seemed to be no point in investing more into the development and deployment of new malware. Yet  we cannot give the all-clear. We expect growth to remain stagnant for the time being  but we cannot ignore that we are still faced with a new threat every 15 seconds”, says Willems.

Fig. 1: New computer malware since 2005


Fig. 2: Monthly malware in 2009 (gray) and 2010 (red)

Note: the complete report can be downloaded at the right hand side of this web page.


Larysa Woloszansky