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We have OWASP to tell us about common security vulnerabilities in webapps and such, but what are the most common infection vectors for personal computers?

A few example vectors:

  • Social engineering (trojans)
  • Browser exploits
  • Document / application exploits (e.g. PDF, Office, etc)
  • Remote code execution in OS services

I'm particularly interested in any academic papers, preferably relatively new (last 3-4 years), and any decent statistical analyses of attacks and infections.

If there's anything out there on the geographic distribution of these types of attacks, I'd be interested in that too.

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Also USB memory and mobile storage. This is new (as last 5 years) common infection vector. Every second USB drive I got and scan it have some viruses in the root folder. – Andrew Smith Jul 31 '12 at 22:28
I have written my bachelor thesis on this topic. But I have no idea if it is useful for you. It is in german. – Andre Apr 29 '13 at 10:46
@vlad Thanks for the offer, but sadly mein Deutsch ist sehr schlecht! – Polynomial Apr 29 '13 at 10:52
up vote 3 down vote accepted

The Verizon Data Breaches report is useful here (

I can't view it right now but I seem to recall that the top routes in were social engineering, flash, document macros and pdf functionality.

Very few these days are in the OS.

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Enterprise or private?

In enterprises the one common thing is spearfishing IMHO.

For private users, malware and unsigned javascripts.

From the perspective of 0, where would you start if you want to penetrate a network, we have to start somewhere.

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