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2009 sets new records for malware creation

PandaLabs has analyzed and classified more malware in 2009 than during the rest of the company's 20-year history. The outstanding trend of the last 12 months has been the prolific production of new malware: 25 million new strains were created in just one year, compared to a combined total of 15 million throughout last 20 years.

This latest surge of activity included countless new examples of banker Trojans (some 66%) as well as a host of fake antivirus programs (rogueware). The report also draws attention to the resurgence of traditional viruses, previously on the verge of extinction, such as Conficker, Sality or the veteran Virutas.

During 2009, spam was also highly active: some 92% of all email traffic was identified as spam. The tricks used to dupe potential victims into opening these emails have focused heavily on exploiting current affairs and dramatic news stories -a tendency which also applied to SEO attacks.

As such, we saw waves of junk mail related to celebrity scandals or deaths (real or fictitious), swine flu, compromising videos of politicians, etc. This year PandaLabs also tracked how spam impacted different industrial sectors, revealing how the automobile and electrical industries were the worst affected, followed by government institutions.

As regards malware distribution channels, social networks (mainly Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Digg), and SEO attacks (directing users to malware-laden websites) have been favored by cyber-criminals, who have been consolidating underground business models to increase revenues. (BBJ Online)