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Autorun-based threats account for 12 per cent of global infections in Q1 2012

Threats persist despite years of software updates

SYDNEY & AUCKLAND May 2, 2012 – More than four years after Autorun was eliminated from operating systems, worms that take advantage of the antiquated feature account for more than 1 of every 10 computer infections worldwide, according to Bitdefender research.

Autorun-based threats, spread when users insert infected USB sticks without checking them for viruses, caused a substantial 12 per cent of global infections in the first quarter of 2012. The threat persists even though the Autorun feature was eliminated from operating systems starting with Windows Vista SP1 in 2008.

“The magnitude of this threat – so many years after it should be extinct – is astonishing,” said Catalin Cosoi, Bitdefender’s Chief Security Researcher. “Some of the heavy-hitters of the virus world – such as Downadup and Stuxnet – spread this way. Prevention should be a simple matter.”

The mass introduction of USB storage devices and the apparition of the Autorun feature in Windows have been widely exploited since the early 2000s. Within five years, Autorun worms reached epidemic proportions autorun-based threats have dominated the malware landscape report since.

USB Immunizer: Tell Viruses Where to Stick It

Bitdefender, the innovative provider of computer security solutions, has finished an overhaul of its USB Immunizer, which disables autorun-related threats before they access the computer and makes your USB stick immune to such malicious behaviour.

“You never know for certain where a USB stick may have been. It is always worth checking,” said Adina Jipa, Product Marketing Manager of Bitdefender USB Immunizer. “A simple, and free, solution is available to a persistent nagging problem.”

New functions to make it easy to immunise multiple sticks or storage devices at once and an intuitive interface that lets you click and immunise are among the upgrades Bitdefender carried out in its first makeover of USB Immunizer. Bitdefender's cutting edge security technology ensures it's always updated against the latest threats.

5 facts about Autorun-based malware:

1.       The Autorun.inf file is not malicious itself. It is used by some families of malware that copy themselves on USB sticks to force the computer to automatically execute them when an infected stick is plugged into a Windows-based PC.

2.       Among the most important families of malware that use the Autorun exploitation to spread are Stuxnet, Downadup, Sality, Rimecud or OnlineGames.

3.       Autorun-based malware can copy itself on MP3/MP4 players, mobile phones, CF cards (such as those in digital cameras) and other devices. When plugged in other PCs, the malware is executed automatically.

4.       Since autorun.inf files are plain-text files that can be opened and analysed, malware creators obfuscate their creations to make them unreadable by humans. However, this is also their weak point. This degree of obfuscation is uncommon in text files and triggers AV detection.

5.       Trojan.AutorunInf (a detection that intercepts rogue autorun.inf files) has been the number one source of infection for more than three years in a row. During this time, it has helped various malware families infect millions of computers worldwide.

For a full description of the advantages and options of Bitdefender USB Immunizer, see: www.bitdefender.com.au/freetools/.


For further information about Bitdefender, please contact

Anna Barnes
Howorth Communications
02 8281 3802


About Bitdefender

Bitdefender is the creator of one of the world's fastest and most effective lines of internationally certified internet security software. Since 2001, the company has been an industry pioneer, introducing and developing award-winning protection. Today, Bitdefender technology secures the digital experience of around 400 million home and corporate users across the globe.

Recently, the company has won a range of key independent recommendations in the US, UK and across Europe, including ConsumerSearch, Which?, Stiftung Warentest and Taenk. Bitdefender antivirus technology has also finished top in leading industry tests from both AV Test and AV-Comparatives. More information about Bitdefender's antivirus products is available from the company's security solutions press room. Additionally, Bitdefender publishes Malware City providing the latest updates on security threats and helping users stay informed in the everyday battle against malware.