10 Million Pieces of Malware and Counting in 2013: Report

Malware creation hits a new milestone, according to PandaLabs, thanks to higher incentives for cyber-criminals.

Although security vendors continue to do their best to conquer malware, malware authors continue to up the ante. According to Panda Labs' third-quarter 2013 report, new malware creation is now at an all-time high.

PandaLabs reported that from January to September 2013, there have been nearly 10 million new malware strains identified, which is as many as PandaLabs saw in all of 2012.

There are a number of reasons for such malware strain growth, Luis Corrons, PandaLabs' technical director, told eWEEK.

"They have always grown really fast; [however,] figures are higher now as the incentives for cyber-criminals are higher too," Corrons said. "There are many ways to make more money with cybercrime: more users online and more online shopping."

While the growth of malware continues unabated, malware authors are not necessarily inventing new forms of malware in 2013. Most of the malware strains that have been detected are just variants of existing threats, Corrons said.

Looking at the types of malware that are being created, PandaLabs has identified Trojans as being the top threat, accounting for nearly 77 percent of all new malware. Worms account for 13 percent of new threats, viruses represent 9 percent, and adware is responsible for less than 1 percent of new malware detected by PandaLabs.

Malware is a global plague, but some countries are affected more than others. In China, PandaLabs reports that 59 percent of computers are infected with malware. There are a number of factors as to why the malware infection rate is so high in China, according to Corrons. For one, he said, software piracy levels are much higher in China. Plus, China has its own local malware ecosystem on top of what PandaLabs sees in the rest of the world, Corrons added.

The malware infection rate in the United States is much lower than in China—reported at 31 percent—although it is in Europe where the lowest rates of infection are found. PandaLabs found an infection rate of only 19 percent in the Netherlands, 20 percent in the U.K. and 21 percent in Germany.

"Users are, in general, more concerned about security," Corrons said about the European infection statistics. "In Europe, there are many security awareness campaigns trying to teach citizens to recognize risks."

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at eWEEK and InternetNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @TechJournalist.

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner

Sean Michael Kerner is an Internet consultant, strategist, and contributor to several leading IT business web sites.