ID-stealing malware up 600 per cent

The number of computers infected by malware designed to steal confidential information has risen by 600 per cent compared to the first six months of 2008, according to research.

Security researcher PandaLabs said that it received 37,000 samples of malware such as viruses, worms and Trojans.

Of that number, some 71 per cent were Trojans that were generally aimed at stealing bank and card details, as well as passwords for online services.

"Maybe one of the reasons for this increase is the economic crisis along with the big business of selling this information on the black market," said technical director Luis Corrons in a statement.

"We have also seen an increase of the distribution and infection of this kind of malware through social networks."

PandaLabs said that malware was changing the ways in which in tried to steal info.

Whereas before attacks almost exclusively targeted users with spoof bank websites, now they may users to other types of fake site where bank details might have to be entered, according to the researchers.

Targets included pay platforms such as PayPal and online auctions such as eBay in addition to online stores such as Amazon.

And it isn't just email. There are other means by which users can be lead to fake ant-virus websites, including social networks like Twitter, SMS messages to mobile phones, and spyware.

PandaLabs estimated that three per cent of all users had fallen victim to these techniques, and that they were much more difficult to detect them than in the past as they were designed to be hidden.