Daily malware growth hit a new level in the third quarter, with an average of 60,000 new pieces seen every day, McAfee has found.
The recently-acquired security giant also identified more than 14 million unique pieces of malware over the period - one million more than in the third quarter of 2009.
"Our Q3 Threat report shows that cyber criminals are not only becoming more savvy, but attacks are becoming increasingly more severe," said Mike Gallagher, senior vice president and chief technology officer of global threat intelligence at McAfee.
The Zeus piece of malware caused plenty of havoc over the period and a mobile version of the highly sophisticated malicious software was created during the quarter.
McAfee also saw an increase in email campaigns attempting to deliver the Zeus botnet using well-known organisations names, such as Western Union, as part of hackers' social engineering tricks.
"Cyber criminals are doing their homework and are aware of what's popular, and what's insecure," added Gallagher.
"They are attacking mobile devices and social networking sites, so education about user activity online, as well as incorporating the proper security technologies are of utmost importance."
Meanwhile, in line with other reports, McAfee saw spam levels fall over the quarter.
The decline was largely down to a number of high-profile botnet takedowns, including that of Bredolab, which had infected around 30 million computers.
Kaspersky has warned, however, levels are likely to rebound as soon as spamming is just too much of a lucrative business.
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Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.
He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.