2008 will go down in history as the year of the malicious threat, according to security firm Symantec. A staggering 60 per cent of all malicious threats discovered in the past 27 years were seen in 2008.
The level of malicious activity now taking place online is starkly revealed in this year’s Internet Security Threat Report (ISTR), and further reinforces the point that the Underground Economy is thriving.
Symantec created more than 1.6 million new malicious code signatures in 2008. This equates to more than 60 per cent of the total malicious code signatures ever created by Symantec.
Guy Bunker, chief scientist at Symantec, said this marked a significant tide-mark in the battle for online security.
"The Symantec ISTR this year highlights the size of the problem we are now dealing with," he said.
"This rising threat shows the need for us all to be educated about how to best protect ourselves, both at home and at work."
The report also noted that web-based attacks remain the primary vector for malicious activity; this was in part due to the increasing size and sophistication of the Internet, as well as its increased use for a variety of activities.
Attackers are also concentrating on compromising end-users for financial gain more than ever before:
* Of all the vulnerabilities identified in 2008, 63 per cent affected web applications, up from 59 per cent in 2007
* In 2008, 78 per cent of threats targeting confidential information exported user data, up from 74 per cent in 2007
* Six of the top 10 countries where Web-based attacks were prominent were within the Europe and Middle East Asia (EMEA) region
* These six countries accounted for 45 per cent of the worldwide total, more than any other region.