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This week in security

Number of threats detected for IM and peer-to-peer networks rises 3,295 percent in one year.

Instant-messaging and peer-to-peer fans are being hit with more worm and malicious-code attacks than ever before, according to research reports.

The number of threats detected for IM and peer-to-peer networks rose a whopping 3,295 percent in the third quarter of 2005, compared with last year, IMlogic said. That brings the total year-over-year increase to 2,083 percent, the security software maker said.

And as the attacks increase in number, they also get smarter, IMlogic said. Worm writers are coming up with more effective ways to get people to click on links to their malicious code, and worms can increasingly hop from one IM network to another, it noted.

To fend off malicious-code attacks, Microsoft plans to release by year's end an initial test version of a new product to protect business desktops, laptops and file servers. The new Microsoft Client Protection product will guard against threats such as spyware, viruses and rootkits.

The software will offer IT administrators central management capabilities and work with Microsoft's Active Directory and Windows Server Updates Services patch management tool, the company said. Microsoft did not say how much the new product will cost or when it will be available in final form.

Meanwhile, America Online is strengthening its shields against phishing attacks for its 20 million Internet service subscribers. The Web giant has expanded its agreement with antiphishing specialist Cyota and signed new partnerships with security technology companies MarkMonitor and Cyveillance.

The protection measures aim to prevent AOL members from falling for phishing scams by blocking access. AOL and its partners will scan the Web for fraudulent sites, analyze suspicious URLs, check new domain registrations and attempt to remove phishing sites from the Web, the company said.