Unpatched computers hit hard during January

The number of unpatched computers attacked by a particular outdated virus surged in January, according to new data from computers security firm Fortinet. The company’s 2009 Threatscape report shows an exploit in a Microsoft Security Bulletin attacked a number of computers through October last year to January 2009, when it hit a large number of computers unexpectedly.

“The exploit affects computers running Windows Vista, XP, 2000, Server 2003, and Server 2008. This series of recent attacks reached a peak level of activity on 14 January,” the report says.

The exploit targeted data used by online gamers, but can also affect other programs. “This demonstrates that criminals are now focusing on using online gaming malware designed to pilfer passwords, personal details, and credit card information, with the US, Japan, China, Taiwan and India the most targeted countries.”

Derek Manky, project manager for cyber security and threat research for Fortinet, warned IT Wire that the exploit is a warning that all computers must be kept up-to-date with virus protection.

“Propagating as far back as October 2008, this vulnerability underscores the importance of proper patch management and a layered security approach to avoid epidemic outbreaks of this nature.”

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