According to the 2011 Annual Security Report published by PandaLabs, malware creation hit an all-time high in 2011.
Researchers at the security company detected 26 million new strains or variants of malicious code. Actual levels of malware created in 2011 may be much higher, as the report is based on data from samples the company collected from monitoring software deployed with customers.
The company attributes the increase to automation techniques being more widely used in the creation of malware variants - slightly altered signatures developed to foil anti-malware detection software.
The report notes a sharp increase in the proliferation of Trojans after levels had decreased the year before.
"In 2011, Trojans dominated the threat landscape more than ever before. Whereas in 2009 Trojans made up 60 percent of all malware, the percentage dropped to 56 percent in 2010. Last year, however, the percentage jumped up to 73 percent, so that three out of every four new malware strains created were Trojans," the report states.
The malware-type distribution for 2011 outlined in the report is as follows:
- Trojans: 73.31%
- Virus: 14.24%
- Worms: 8.13%
- Adware and Spyware: 2.9%
- Other: 1.43%
Asian countries again lead the world in the number of infections detected, with three nations seeing levels far greater than average.
"The countries leading the list of most infections are once again Thailand, China and Taiwan, with 60, 56 and 52 percent of infected computers respectively. These are actually the only countries that exceed the worldwide average of 38.49 percent," the report says.
The report also notes the record number of data records compromised in breaches, particularly the exposure of over 100 million Sony accounts, as well as those of over 35 million Steam customer.