Attacks launched over instant messaging and file sharing networks are up dramatically over last year, a security firm said Monday, and exploits are becoming ever more sophisticated.
In the first quarter of 2006, malicious software attacks across instant messaging (IM), chat, and peer-to-peer (P2P) were up more than 700 percent over the same quarter last year, Foster City, Calif. FaceTime Communications said.
Although the growth in threats targeting public IM networks such as Yahoo, MSN, and AOL stabilized in Q1 compared to the fourth quarter of 2005, the complexity of the attacks has increased, FaceTime noted.
More attacks than ever are being delivered over multiple networks simultaneously. What FaceTime called "multi-channel propagation" -- attacks conducted over both IM and P2P, for instance -- were 23 times more common this year than during the same period in 2005.
"The number of threats across multiple P2P and IM channels demonstrates the need for a comprehensive approach to managing threats," argued Tyler Wells, the research director at FaceTime, in a statement.
Attacks against IM networks are actually off 2005's pace, with just 5 percent of 2006's events involving instant messaging, compared with 16 percent during all of 2005. AOL's IM network is now the most frequently targeted, and has displaced MSN from 2005's top spot, said FaceTime.
FaceTime's complete Q1 report can be read on the company's Web site.
The company also hosts a page on its site that lists the most malicious and the newest threats to real-time communications.