The number of malware affecting Linux during 2004 and 2005 jumped from 422 to 863, said the report, written by Konstantin Sapronov on the Viruslist.com website. Other Unix-based systems also are experiencing similar rises in attacks, although not to the level of Linux.
Sapronov said this is not surprising news, especially as alternate platforms become more popular.
"Slowly but surely Linux is being chosen over Windows not only for servers, but also for desktops," he said. "Mac OS X's (stock) may also rise. Since Apple has switched to Intel processors, Macintosh is rapidly gaining popularity."
Malware targeting Unix-type systems is similar to malicious programs targeting Windows, except the former typically uses a backdoor to gain system access, the report said. Malware aimed at Unix usually contains packers, used to hinder the detection of malicious programs.
Within the mobile device arena, Linux offers an alternative to Symbian and Windows platforms, even further increasing its likelihood of becoming a hacker target.
"Many major manufacturers have either already developed or (are) planning to offer devices with Linux," Sapronov said. "The only thing that is needed to encourage the evolution of Linux mobile is a critical mass of users."