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According to the latest McAfee Labs Third Quarter Threats Report 2009 instances of Distributed Denial of Service attacks are growing in popularity.

In the last quarter the McAfee Labs observed many new attacks demanding ransom money including those aimed at sports betting companies which were taken out of action during key sporting events to cause losses in the millions. Such attacks have not only been used to make money, but also silence political opinion.

But perhaps the growth of DDoS as a service, whereby cybercriminals offer botnets capable of launching such attacks to the highest bidder is the biggest worry. "These botnets are capable of knocking even some of the most-protected sites offline" the report concludes and, of course, the whole concept of DDoS as a Service means that anyone can create a devastating attack provided they have the money to buy the botnet time.

The concern being that not only does it remove the technical requirement from the would be attack equation, but it also reduces the amount of money that they have to invest. It only costs a fraction of the price of establishing a viable DDoS attack botnet to rent one for an hour or two.

Other highlights of the report include:

Despite the Pirate Bay shutdown, there has been a 300% increase in the creation of file sharing websites.

Spam reached its highest level in history, breaking the previous record set in the second quarter of 2009 by 10 percent. Spam now comprises 92 percent of all e-mail. When compared with the third quarter of 2008, spam jumped 24 percent.

Web-based attacks are the newest hot threat vector, and 55% of all malicious URLs are hosted in the US.

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