A sneaky security problem, ignored by the bad guys

Rootkits are sneaky, but are they a major threat?

In the second half of 2007, for example, Symantec tracked nearly half a million new types of malicious code, up 136 percent from the first half of the year. Security experts say that this situation is even worse in 2008.

"The stuff that we run across is not that complicated," said Greg Hoglund, CEO of HBGary, a company that sells software to help customers respond to computer intrusions. "Most of the malware that's out there nowadays... doesn't even attempt to hide."

For example, one of HB Gary's customers was recently hit by a targeted attack. The bad guys knew exactly what they wanted and, after breaking into the network, swiped the information before the company's incident response team could even get there, Hoglund said. "It was very clear that the attackers knew that they would get away with the data so quickly that they didn't even have to hide."

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