Malware Has Grown in Quantity and Variety

A report by research laboratory PandaLabs has showed that the volume of new malware produced annually over the years 2000-2007 has gone up 25,818%.

Also, the type of malware that cyber criminals used most frequently has changed over these years. In 2000, viruses comprised of 81% of total new malware that PandaLabs detected while in 2006, they barely accounted for 1%. On the other hand, trojans have grown from 14% to 53% over the period.

The statistics highlights that the amount of malware being spread via the Internet is now much more than it has ever been, and this increasing trend is likely to continue, said Luis Corrons, technical director of PandaLabs. Security Park published Corrons' statement on July 20, 2007.

The driving factor behind the transformation in malware variety is the new objectives of malware writers. Viruses were used to spread epidemics and for other notorious purposes whereas trojans are used as weapons to silently infect computers and seek profits, Corrons added.

The report by PandaLabs also shows the booming nature of worms particularly in the years 2002-2005. During this period, e-mail worms were in wide use that caused epidemics, Corrons explained.

The report also notes that in 2002, the first pieces of spyware started to appear and the threat prevailed widely giving dimension to a new genre of malware. The spyware enables to steal user data, which miscreants use for making profits or to sell to third parties.

Trojans are now the most widely used variety of malware primarily because they spread without arousing suspicion. They are most suitable for attacks on specific targets rather than mass attacks, the report points out. Worms help to propagate another malware. This trend is becoming popular, confirmed PandaLabs in 2006.

The report also explains how spyware and adware are being increasingly distributed because these programs hide themselves in legitimate software and users do not regard them as harmful.

There was a growing trend of hybrid malware in 2006, which is poised to continue in 2007, the report says. The combination of worms and rootkits is tending to make distinction difficult between one malware family and another.

Related article: Malware Authors Turn More Insidious

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