A Panda Software study is investigating the extent that criminal malware is infecting PCs world-wide, even those PC’s with an anti-virus program installed. The study’s results, to be published shortly, will offer information such as the actual number of infected computers and the types of threats that are most frequently installed on PCs without the users’ knowledge.

Since this is a worldwide study, Panda Software is asking all users for their help in gathering as much data as possible. To take part in the study, users should go to http://www.infectedornot.com/ and scan their computers with NanoScan and TotalScan.

Panda Software believes this study to be essential in effectively addressing the new trend in malware. Cyber-criminals are no longer interested in the celebrity of causing widely reported epidemics, but rather, they want to steal confidential data that can be used for online fraud or identity theft.

The new malware trend includes:

More new malware appears every day. In 2006, PandaLabs detected as much
new malware as in the previous 15 years combined. At present,
anti-virus laboratories cannot process all the new threats that appear
day after day. This results in many computers being infected without
users’ knowledge, even though they might have an updated anti-virus
program installed.

Cyber-crooks try to infect computers silently, so that neither users
nor security companies can detect when new samples are put in
circulation. For example, just a few days ago, PandaLabs detected a
network of zombie computers made up of 160,000 PCs infected with the
Barracuda.A bot, unknown until then. One of the things this malicious
code does is it allows hackers to gain remote access to the affected
computer in order to carry out actions that compromise user
confidentiality and impede the tasks performed on the computer.

The types of malicious code traditionally responsible for large
epidemics, like viruses or worms, are being replaced with other
criminally-oriented malware such as Trojans, bots or spyware. Some
66 percent of new Trojans that appeared in the first quarter of 2007
were designed to be used for theft.

Increased amount of malware using “stealth techniques”, like rootkits,
packers, etc. Malware that uses these techniques are more difficult to
detect and stay longer on computers performing malicious actions such
as sending spam, launching attacks against other computers, or hosting
a Trojan waiting for commands to collect confidential data and perform
online fraud without the user knowing. Panda Software has recently
launched a free tool for removing rootkits (Panda Anti-Rootkit),
available at http://www.pandasoftware.com/about/press/antirootkits

Panda Software wants to evaluate the scope of this criminal activity with the study it is carrying out at http://www.infectedornot.com/. At this site, users who want to collaborate with this initiative will find two free antivirus tools: NanoScan and TotalScan.

Both scans detect far more malware than traditional anti-virus solutions as they utilize the “Collective Intelligence” developed at PandaLabs. The Collective Intelligence automates the processing of malware so it is able to identify and develop vaccines for far greater volumes of malware than a traditional anti-virus lab. It is also in real-time communication with users’ computers. This means that the malware scan and detection is performed on Panda Software’s severs, not on the PC itself, in real-time with the most up-to-the minute vaccines immediately available without having to wait for anti-virus software periodic updates.

At present, NanoScan detects almost 900,000 threats, whereas TotalScan can detect almost a million. They can detect even the threats that slipped past other anti-virus programs. TotalScan not only detects all types of known and unknown threats, but also disinfects them free of charge.