According to a new study from anti-virus developer Panda Software, the new malware dynamic saw financial profit become malicious software creators' top priority. Of all malware detected by the company's free online scanner, about 40 percent was spyware. Some 17 percent of the total was made up by trojans, including banker trojans that steal confidential data related to bank services and "droppers" or "downloaders" that download malicious applications onto systems.
An additional eight percent was made up of dialers, malicious code that dials up premium-rate numbers without users' knowledge. Bots, a type of malware used in an elaborate business model involving the sale or rental of networks of infected computers, accounted for four percent of the total.
Traditional email worms, which were recently a major internet threat, made up only four percent of the total.
Luis Corrons, director of PandaLabs, said: "Epidemics caused by email worms stir up too much publicity and are therefore no use when it comes to generating profits. Currently, the types of malware we are seeing more of are those such as spyware, trojans and bots, which can be installed silently and remain hidden on systems while they operate maliciously."
With respect to new examples of malware discovered in the first three months of this year, trojans have been the most prolific, especially downloaders and bankers, and have accounted for some 47 percent of the total. Second in the list were bots, emphasizing the growing interest that cybercrooks have in this particular type of malicious code, according to the report.