17 Mar 2011

Malware creation still on the rise, study says

The creators of malicious software have continued to churn out more and more attack code during the first quarter of 2011, according to a recent report.

Researchers at one security firm identified an average of 73,000 new malware samples a day during the first three months of the year, marking an increase of 10,000 over the daily average seen in 2010. While the quarterly increase was not as large as in previous periods, it was nevertheless significant, the analysts said.

Trojans seem to be the most popular attack vector for cyber criminals in 2011's opening months, the researchers reported, accounting for 70 percent of all new samples identified. Their popularity is due in large part to the ever-increasing reliance on internet banking, since the software enables criminals to steal personal financial information and harvest money directly from online accounts.

Fake antivirus software has actually dropped in popularity after soaring to prominence during the past year, but downloaders - which can further infect a compromised system by installing additional malware - have gained in popularity, according to the study.

Regular and frequent updates to antivirus software, along with safe browsing habits, are the best defenses against infection, experts say.