Malware writers had a busy year in 2010.
According to Panda Security, during the year, cyber-criminals created and distributed more than one-third of all existing malware ever classified by the company. The finding was included in the company's 2010 Annual Security Report, which listed banking Trojans as the most prevalent threat, representing 56 percent of all malware samples.
"Banking Trojans will continue to be the dominant malware in 2011's threat landscape and this will widely be fueled by the many crimeware kits available on the black market," Sean-Paul Correll, threat researcher at Panda Security. "We're also observing some collaboration between criminals [such as with] SpyEye and Zeus, which could very well mean that the sophistication and attack scope can be changed drastically in a short amount of time."
It is a misconception, however, that crimeware kits are only used by attackers to steal money, he noted. In fact, crimeware kits can easily be used for any purpose.
One of the other more common types of malware is fake antivirus, which accounted for 11.6 percent of all malware in Panda's Collective Intelligence database.
The news, however, was not all bad. According to Panda, the speed at which new threats were growing fell significantly during 2010. Every year since 2003, new threats grew by at least 100 percent annually. But last year, the increase was roughly 50 percent.
"Beyond the continuing avalanche of malware, data leakage is what stood out the most in 2010," Correll said. "Organizations like WikiLeaks exist to enable any person or even disgruntled employees to expose any objectionable conduct of their employers or governments."