What spooks Microsoft's chief security advisor

Application exploits, virtualization security are big concerns

Another thing that worries Arsenault: security issues surrounding Web 2.0, Web services and software as a service. "They all rely on deeper trust at the client level and a smarter client to do that trust model," he said. "We can't assume that the traditional model we are using is actually going to work."

Danger signs are also emerging when it comes to securing virtualized systems.

"Your CIOs have no clue as to where we are on this," he told the audience of security pros. "I think that there's a lot of things we don't have right on virtualization as an industry....We've got the ability given its nascent state today working with all the folks doing virtualization to put some things in hypervisors and other components that would allow us not to play catch up like we have over the past 7 years in security."

Microsoft gathers security data in a number of ways and formats, including its Security Intelligence Report, now conducted twice a year but potentially going quarterly.

Among the most frustrating findings for Arsenault: Just over half of all attacks originated from the .edu domain. "[That's] a fundamental problem," he said. "We've got to do a better job with the university systems to stop that."

As for geographically where attacks are coming from, all eyes are on China, the source of 380 per cent more attacks than a year ago.

In terms of what kind of malware is showing up most often, Trojans are on the rise. Rootkits are raising their ugly heads, but fortunately, Arsenault said, they're so hard to write that they probably won't get too much worse.

On a positive note, Microsoft is seeing the amount of publicly exploitable code, at least for its own software, shrink. But Arsenault does sweat over whether there's really less exploitable code, or whether it's more a case of such code just being kept secret by nation states looking to wage cyberwar.

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